Tired Nets get ‘Bull’-ied in Chicago
Brooklyn has season-high five-game winning streak snapped
The Brooklyn Nets’ fatigue caught up with them in the fourth quarter Monday night in the Windy City.
So did the Chicago Bulls.
Despite 38 points from Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, the Nets suffered an epic fourth-quarter meltdown en route to a 118-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls in front of 19,459 fans at the United Center.
Brooklyn (7-4) entered the final period with a slim 78-76 lead, but the Bulls (7-3) gave up two free throws to LaMarcus Aldridge before reeling off 13 consecutive points to take the lead for good.
“They made shots,” Durant said. “They were aggressive in everything that they did. They got stops, ran out. They got some high-level shotmakers on that team, so they made tough ones all night. You got to give them credit, they played with a lot of intensity.”
The Nets, who had a season-high five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 1-2 on their ongoing six-game road trip, were coming off Sunday’s 116-103 victory in Toronto.
More than game for the better part of three quarters, Brooklyn was outscored 42-17 over the final 12 minutes.
Aldridge scored 19 points off the bench and James Harden added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Nets, who will try to get back in the win column Wednesday night in Orlando.
DeMar DeRozan poured in 28 points and Zach LaVine added 24 for the Bulls, who ended a two-game slide.
“We stayed aggressive,” DeRozan told the Associated Press. “We had a couple of stretches, especially in the first half, where we got messy on both ends. Turning the ball over, letting them get out in transition.
“We stayed resilient, especially going into that fourth quarter. We stayed aggressive and kept attacking, getting out on transition and making everything tough for them.”
Durant, who went 13-of-24 from the field and 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, also grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out four assists.
The superstar forward had 31 points the night before in Toronto, but the Nets were clearly in need of a fourth-quarter boost in Chicago, one that could have been provided by Kyrie Irving, who remains exiled from the team for failing to comply with New York City’s vaccination mandate.
Though the Nets were streaking without Irving, his presence on this two-week trip away from Barclays Center would have given head coach Steve Nash the ability to rest either Durant or Harden in one of the back-to-back contests.
But the Brooklyn organization remains steadfast in its belief that Irving must comply with COVID-19 vaccination mandates before he can be a full participant this season.
Former Net Caris LeVert, now a member of the Indiana Pacers, weighed in on Irving’s continued absence in the New York Post on Monday.
“I think it’s unfortunate what’s happened,” LeVert said. “Everyone wants to see Kyrie play basketball, I think Kyrie wants to play basketball. I know Kyrie wants to play basketball. I think it’s just unfortunate what’s happened. Hopefully, everyone can come to a conclusion and come back to the court soon.”
The Nets will be back in action Wednesday in Orlando, but Irving isn’t likely to rejoin the team anytime soon, barring something unforeseen.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a Brooklyn native and Nets fan, has already said he would not ease Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandates when he takes office on Jan. 1.
That means the Nets are likely going to attack the rest of the season without their third superstar.
According to Durant, that won’t slow Brooklyn’s drive toward a championship.
“We’re frustrated. We want to win every game,” he said.
NOTHING BUT NET: After visiting the Magic on Wednesday, the Nets will visit New Orleans on Friday before finishing their longest trip of the season Sunday in Oklahoma City. Brooklyn will be back at Barclays on Nov. 18 vs. Durant’s former team, the Golden State Warriors. … The Nets entered Monday’s game ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, yielding 103.4 points per 100 possessions. “It’s a good start with our first few games,” said veteran Nets forward Patty Mills. “But we’ve just got to keep building on it and hopefully we can believe in it more and becomes something we can hang our hat on.”
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