While the Bulls were hemming and hawing about whether or not Joakim Noah was going to play in Game 1 last night at Barclays Center, P.J. Carlesimo kept saying it was more about how the Nets played than who played for the Bulls. “It won’t change what we do,” the Nets coach said just before tip-off. “We want to go inside regardless.” Carlesimo might as well have put a bull’s-eye on Brook Lopez’s back, pointing to him as the key to the Nets’ first playoff game as the Brooklyn franchise. Lopez is coming off a terrific, All-Star regular season. But this was his first playoff game and it was difficult to predict how he would react to the uptick in intensity. Lopez didn’t disappoint. He delivered an emphatic performance that propelled the Nets to a 106-89 victory and could set the tone for the remainder of this best-of-seven series. Game 2 is tomorrow night at Barclays Center, and the Bulls will spend much their off-day trying to figure out how to contain the Nets center. Lopez dominated Chicago’s frontline for 21 points, with 19 coming in the first half as the Nets stormed to a commanding 60-35 lead. Sure, Lopez wasn’t the only Nets hero on a night bathed in Brooklyn black. Deron Williams (22 points) played like the superstar the Nets need him to be, and everyone from Gerald Wallace (14 points) to C.J. Watson (14 points) raised their game a notch. But Lopez’s domination of the Bulls’ big men bodes well for the rest of this first-round series.
Lopez looms large, sets tone in physical series
New York Post | Apr 21