Butler kills Nets’ buzz in Chicago
Scores 40, Including Game-Winner as Time Expires to Drop Brooklyn
The Nets were milliseconds away from overtime in their pursuit of posting back-to-back wins for the first time this season Wednesday night in Chicago.
But Jimmy Butler capped a virtuoso 40-point performance by draining a jumper as time expired, lifting the Bulls to a dramatic 101-99 victory over Brooklyn in front of a sellout crowd of 21,957 at the Windy City’s United Center.
Butler, who left the game with an apparent ankle injury with less than five minutes remaining, came back to thwart the Nets’ bid for their first consecutive wins since March 24-26 of last season.
He scored nine points down the stretch, none more important than the step-back shot he buried over Bojan Bogdanovic as the buzzer sounded, leaving the Nets to lament what could have been after they squandered a seven-point advantage over the final three minutes.
“That’s a highly contested two with a pretty tall guy on him, I thought that was pretty good defense,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson ceded approximately 48 hours after celebrating Randy Foye’s buzzer-beater that lifted Brooklyn over Charlotte at the Barclays Center on Monday night.
The Nets had no excuses for giving this one away, especially with future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade limited to 16 points in 22 minutes due to migraine headaches.
Matters could have been settled much earlier if Foye didn’t misfire on a pair of late free throws, and Brook Lopez had converted at least one of two layup attempts in the final minute.
But these Nets (8-23) have found ways to lose road games throughout this difficult campaign, dropping to a dismal 1-15 away from Downtown Brooklyn with Wednesday’s last-second defeat.
“They hit a lot of tough shots,” lamented Lopez, who led Brooklyn with 33 points but couldn’t get the ball to drop when the game was on the line.
“I’m disappointed in myself, I should have converted on a few of those last possessions and I let them get back in the game.”
Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points, Foye finished with a season-high 11 and Trevor Booker pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds for Brooklyn, which was still beaten on the boards by a whopping 55-38 margin.
“I thought giving them extra opportunities — the 18 offensive rebounds — against a good team is hard,” Atkinson noted on the team’s website. “It’s hard when you keep giving them opportunities. I thought that was key.”
Brooklyn point guard Jeremy Lin sat out with a strained left hamstring, an injury he re-tweaked on Monday night against the Hornets after it cost him 17 games earlier this year.
Nets general manager Sean Marks indicated that there was no set timetable for Lin’s return this time around, but did indicate that the strain was not as severe as the initial one he suffered against Detroit here on Nov. 2.
There is also no set timetable for when the Nets will be in position to win back-to-back games again this season.
After coming so close in Chicago Wednesday, they’ll restart that quest Friday night in Washington in their 2016 finale.
“Our guys had a lot of resilience, and I feel bad we didn’t get the win,” Atkinson lamented.
Nothing But Net: With Lin back in New York getting further evaluation on his hamstring, Atkinson used a steady rotation of players in his backcourt, delegating minutes to Kilpatrick (34), Foye (28) rookie Isaiah Whitehead (19), Caris LeVert (20) and Spencer Dinwiddie (15). Kilpatrick handed out six of Brooklyn’s 21 assists … Joe Harris also sat out Wednesday with a hip pointer … After visiting Washington on Friday, the Nets will be back at Barclays on Wednesday for their first game of 2017 against Utah … The Nets have lost 12 in a row on the road since their lone win away from home this season, a 122-104 triumph in Phoenix on Nov. 12. Their next shot at a road victory will come next Thursday in Indiana … The Nets are 4-18 overall since opening the season with a 4-5 mark.
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In local college sports news, the Brooklyn College men’s basketball team returned from a two-week layoff Wednesday night in the Land of Magic Classic Tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida, suffering a 76-60 loss to Lebanon Valley.
Senior center Enees Nikovic led the Bulldogs (3-7) with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The BC women also suffered a 71-49 drubbing at the hands of undefeated and 14th-ranked Mary Washington in the Land of Magic women’s opener Wednesday afternoon.
Tiffany Ruiz and fellow senior Maya Ajee-Thomas led the Lady Bulldogs (5-2) with nine points each.
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