With an opportunity to eliminate the Nets, advance to the second round of the postseason and get some much-needed rest, everything seemed as if it was in place for the Bulls to win Monday night’s close-out game at the Barclays Center, even as they trailed for the vast majority of the contest. But the Bulls, known for their resilience and ability, couldn’t overcome an uncharacteristic disadvantage on the glass, atypical defensive intensity and an inability to make a comeback—which is almost an expectation given the tenor of the series—and fell to the Nets, 110-91, in Game 5 of the first-round matchup, reducing their series lead to 3-2. Another of the Bulls’ sluggish starts was the order of the evening, as the visitors made only two of their first nine shots. Nate Robinson (20 points, eight assists), the hero of Saturday afternoon’s triple-overtime Game 4 win in Chicago, started in place of Kirk Hinrich—the veteran point guard was out with a calf injury suffered in the same contest—and while his scoring ability is unquestioned, the diminutive spark-plug doesn’t possess the same natural ball-distribution skills of the injured starter, leading to uneven offense at the outset of the contest. For the Nets, the familiar trio of Joe Johnson, floor general Deron Williams (23 points, 10 assists) and All-Star center Brook Lopez (28 points, 10 rebounds) led the way in the early going, staking the hosts to an early cushion, but behind the scoring of Robinson and Carlos Boozer (10 points, 10 rebounds), the Bulls closed the gap. Rookie point guard Marquis Teague got his first meaningful action since March and while his stint was uneven, the real issue was the continued solid play of Lopez on the interior, which led to the Bulls facing a 26-21 deficit at the conclusion of the opening period, following a Marco Belinelli jumper with 2.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
Nets pull away late from Bulls, force Game 6
CSN Chicago | Apr 30