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Bulls stop Nets’ winning streak at 12

Durant's 44 points not enough as historic run ends

January 5, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The longest winning streak in Brooklyn Nets history came to a halt in Chicago Wednesday night.

Despite a whirlwind 44-point performance by Kevin Durant, the Nets took a loss for the first time in a month, seeing their Brooklyn-best streak end at 12 games with a 121-112 defeat to the Bulls in front of a sellout crowd of 21,418 fans at the United Center.

“We could not get over the hump,” said Jacque Vaughn, the newly named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. “A big part of it was playing catch-up all night. It’ll be good to see how we respond from this.”

Unbeaten since a 103-92 setback to Boston at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Dec. 4, the Nets (25-13) led 8-7 in the Windy City before DeMar DeRozan’s 17-foot jumper put the Bulls (17-21) ahead to stay.

Brooklyn battled heartily despite falling behind by as many as 18 points.

The Nets crawled within 88-85 on a free throw by Durant to close out the third quarter, but Chicago proved uncatchable, re-opening a 106-94 advantage on Ayo Dosunmu’s slam with 6:46 to play.

DeRozan and Patrick Williams had 22 points apiece and Nikola Vucevic added 21 for the Bulls, who ended a two-game skid and improved to 2-0 against Brooklyn this season.

The teams will meet again at Barclays Center on Feb. 9 before returning to Chicago for the season-series finale on Feb. 24.

Derrick Jones Jr. and the Bulls slammed the Nets’ hopes of a Brooklyn-best 13th consecutive win in the Windy City Wednesday. AP Photo by Paul Beaty

Despite the defeat, Durant’s performance proved Brooklyn’s resilience. The Most Valuable Player candidate buried 15-of-22 shots, including a 5-of-10 performance from 3-point range.

He knocked down all nine of his free throws, grabbed five rebounds, handed out four assists, picked up a steal and blocked a pair of shots in 38 scintillating minutes.

“A lot of times, we chased them a bit, playing from behind,” Durant lamented. “We tried to make it a game, cut it to three (points).

“We kept fighting and put ourselves in position to win a basketball game. … It was one of those games we just didn’t finish.”

Kyrie Irving scored 25 points and Seth Curry added 22 for Brooklyn, which fell two victories shy of the franchise-record 14-game winning streak, accomplished twice while the team was based in New Jersey in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Now, the Nets will try to begin a new run Friday night in New Orleans.

“That’s why you don’t get too high or too low in this thing,” Vaughn noted. “Let’s see how we respond to a loss.

“We never mentioned anything about a streak along the way. I’m looking forward to our guys learning a lesson from this game.”

Jacque Vaughn became the sixth coach in Nets history to win NBA Coach of the Month honors. AP Photo by Matt Kelley

NOTHING BUT NET: Vaughn guided Brooklyn to a league-best and franchise record-setting 12-1 mark in December. He is 30-10 overall at the helm with the Nets, including a stint as interim head coach during Brooklyn’s time at the NBA bubble site in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. … T.J. Warren was held scoreless in 14 minutes off the bench and left the game in the fourth quarter with what Vaughn described as a left-rib contusion. … After visiting New Orleans, the Nets will close out this three-game road trip in Miami Sunday. … Curry went 8-of-11 from the field, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range Wednesday in Chicago. “It came down to the end, we kind of came close, but the way we started the first half, it just wasn’t good enough,” Curry said.

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