Nets back to .500 with win over the Bulls

Deron Williams and the Nets finally returned to .500 for the first time since early November. AP Photo.

Deron Williams and the Nets finally returned to .500 for the first time since early November. AP Photo.

The Brooklyn Nets improved to .500 for the first time since Nov. 5 when they beat the Chicago Bulls 96-80 in their return to the Barclays Center on Monday night after a two and a half week road trip.

The Nets are now 29-29, the first time they’ve had a .500 winning percentage since they were 2-2 after they beat the Utah Jazz on Nov. 5. Their lowest point was when they were 10-21 after a loss against the Spurs on Dec. 31. Since then they have gone 19-8 which is the fourth-best winning percentage in the East since Jan. 1.

Not only was this a return to .500 for the Nets, but it was the first time that they have avoid being swept by the Bulls in a season series for the first time since 1997-98 which was Michael Jordan‘s final season in Chicago. Considering what this means for them in the standings and the fact that they finally beat the team that knocked them out of the playoffs, this could have been the biggest win of the year for the Nets.

It was also the first time that Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in the NBA, played on his home court. He was given an ovation by the home fans when he was announced before the game, when he entered the game for the first time in the second half and the first time he fouled somebody.

Deron Williams led the Nets with 20 points and six assists, Joe Johnson had 19 points and Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce each had 14 points.

The Nets led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter and by as much as 12 points in the second. The turning point came midway through the fourth quarter when the Bulls went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to nine points. The Bulls turned the ball over thanks to a palming violation and Deron Williams followed up with a three-pointer that put them up by 12 and Chicago never challenged them again.

One of the keys to the game included 25 turnovers by the Bulls and the Nets had a season-high 19 steals. Livingston had five steals and Pierce had four. Meanwhile the Nets had only 11 turnovers themselves which helped make up for the fact that they were out-rebounded 43-28.