Nets show ‘fight’ and ‘focus’ in Chicago
Brooklyn Battles its way to Second Road Win of Season vs. Bulls
Having lost five in a row overall and eight straight on the road, the Brooklyn Nets were in dire need of a spark.
A team meeting prior to Monday night’s game in Chicago appears to have provided one.
Brook Lopez scored 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Thaddeus Young added 16 points and a game-high 13 boards as Brooklyn bested the Bulls, 105-102, for just its second road win of the season in front of 21,825 fans at the United Center.
Joe Johnson, who scored 12 points and handed out five assists, revealed to the New York Post that Nets players challenged one another to stick together and put forth a solid 48-minute effort during the pregame summit.
The Nets, who were booed off the Barclays Center floor following Sunday’s embarrassing 100-85 loss to Minnesota, responded with a rare road triumph, their first since Nov. 11 at Houston.
“We came in focused, we were energetic and our bench did a great job of coming in, keeping the energy high and responding to runs,” said Lopez, who added two steals, three blocked shots and two assists to his impressive line. “We were all there for each other. We were pulling for each other.”
Brooklyn, which remains a distant eight games back of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, hopes to use the victory over Chicago to spur a Christmas week Downtown revival.
The Nets will host former franchise poster boy Deron Williams and the Dallas Mavericks at Barclays Center on Wednesday night before Saturday’s 4 p.m. showdown here against Washington.
Reaching the playoffs for the fourth straight season since arriving here in Brooklyn certainly isn’t an impossibility at this juncture of the campaign, especially if the Nets display the type of grit and determination they put forth during Monday’s much-needed win going forward.
“We just did everything better,” Nets second-year head coach Lionel Hollins said. “I thought we came out from the start with a lot of fight and purpose.”
Young’s 12 first-half points helped Brooklyn to a surprising 58-55 lead at intermission.
The Nets (8-20) upped that advantage to seven points entering the fourth quarter, and held on down the stretch by limiting the Bulls to just one made basket over the frantic final two minutes before Jimmy Butler knocked down a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“Butler made some tough shots, obviously,” noted Lopez, who also had a clutch block of Butler in the waning seconds. “But for the most part, we stuck together and clamped down defensively, limiting them to one shot. That gives you a lot of confidence when you’re coming down the other end in control of the game.”
Nothing But Net: Former Poly Prep Country Day School standout Joakim Noah of the Bulls left Monday night’s game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. … Bojan Bogdanovic scored 12 points and had a team-best plus-minus of 14 during his 27 minutes on the floor. … Nets reserves Wayne Ellington and Willie Reed added 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Brooklyn.
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