Chicago was trying to avoid another embarrassing playoff performance and earn a series tie, and the Bulls did just that.
Chicago Came out of the gates playing strong defense. Joakim Noah playing with a foot injury, did a great job early in the first quarter defending and out-rebounding Brooklyn Center Brook Lopez. Joakim was playing on one foot and a big heart, he wouldn’t miss the playoffs for the world.
Point guard Kirk Hinrich was also playing on one wheel, a deep thigh bruise, but this didn’t slow him down. Coach Tom Thibodeau must of whipped the Bulls back into shape after game one, because they were playing like a completely different team than the one that showed up at game 1.
Chicago’s defense was playing with heart, but the offense continued to struggle early on, scoring only 8 points half way through the first. Both teams were undoubtedly playing hard, blocks, hard fouls and tough rebounds.
Early on this game was shaping up to be a defensive show down, and with the Bulls offense as bad as it is, it was exactly the game they wanted to play. Chicago took a 3 point lead into the second quarter, 20-17.
The battle of the benches begun in the second quarter. The Bulls needed a strong quarter from Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli Brooklyn’s Bench came out strong as well, C.J Watson picked up where he left of from game 1 and continued his scoring game. Taj Gibson was the anchor on defense in the second quarter with Noah on the bench. Chicago struggled from the charity stripe, only 2-7 on free throws half way through the second.
The transition offense was money for the Bulls’ bench, Belinelli, Robinson and Luol Deng all thriving off of the weak transition defense of Brooklyn. The “Bench Mob” was playing with heart in the second quarter, keeping distance from the Nets. Brooklyn went on a 12-3 run late in the first half lead but Brook Lopez. C.J Watson hit a buzzer-beater three at the end of the half, as Chicago took a 47-46 lead into the second half.
The Bulls came out of the tunnel in the second half firing, going on a quick 8-2 run including a long range Hinrich three ball and a technical foul on a Brooklyn assistant coach. The Bulls defense seemed to be puzzling for the Brooklyn offense, who had a difficult time working the ball inside with Brook Lopez.
Joakim Noah took a seat after he registered his fourth foul early in the third quarter but it wasn’t a concern due to his ‘minutes limit’. Nazr Muhammed played key minutes while Noah sat, he played stellar defense on Lopez and hit a couple of mid-range jump shots. The Bulls were playing with fantastic energy, and the defense kept stumping Brooklyn with a defense that was swarming the paint.
Chicago created a ton of momentum with a 7-0 run extended their lead to a game high, 12 points. The story of game one, which was Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, were cold throughout the third quarter with the Bulls taking away the paint. Chicago held the Nets to 11% from the field in the third quarter. The Bulls took momentum and a 69-57 lead into the final minutes.
The Bulls offense was defiantly being over-shadowed by the defense, but it was superb. The Nets couldn’t make any sort of dent into the lead Chicago built up in the third. The Brooklyn crowd was expecting a big run to put them back into this game. The Nets reduced into a 5 point deficit with 8 minutes to play, putting them on a 9-0 run.
Things started to unravel for Chicago, but a Joakim Noah dunk and a Nate Robinson three put the Bulls up by 10 and took away Brooklyn’s momentum.
Former Bull C.J Watson provided offense along with Joe Johnson who both hit a pair of three’s to bring the Nets within 4. The Bulls defense had to hang on for 3 more minutes and this game was theirs. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah extended the Bulls lead to 8 with 2 minutes to go.
Chicago flexed it’s defense muscle in the final minutes, forcing misses and Noah made a huge block on Brook Lopez. All that was left for Chicago was to knock down free throws. Joakim Noah was the man down the stretch, knocking down the final free throws and clocking in his 10 point, 10 rebound double-double. Chicago took game 2, 90-82.