Bulls fall to Nets 110-91; Game 6 Thursday
Given that the Bulls have waited two years for a rematch with the Heat, two days for another chance doesn’t seem like that long.
The Nets forced Thursday’s Game 6 at the United Center with Monday night’s 110-91 triumph at Barclays Center, closing with the confidence and big plays they lacked in their epic Game 4 collapse they lost in triple overtime.
Deron Williams took over the third quarter, Andray Blatche and Gerald Wallace came up big in the fourth and Brook Lopez proved a force throughout as the Nets this time held onto a double-digit lead.
There were nervous moments. The Bulls pulled within 85-84 with 8 minutes, 15 seconds left on Marco Belinelli’s 3-pointer. But Blatche scored four points, including two free throws after Belinelli committed a flagrant foul, and Joe Johnson added two jumpers for breathing room.
Lopez, steady all game with 28 points and 10 rebounds, then snuck behind Joakim Noah for a dunk and three-point play with 4:01 left for a 98-90 advantage.
The Bulls, who could be without Kirk Hinrich the rest of the series, still are seeking their first four-game win streak this season.
“We know how good they are,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “All these games have been tough, hard-fought games. They usually come down to one or two possessions near the end, and you’ve got to make plays.”
The Nets made more of them. After Jimmy Butler — strong, with 18 points — split two free throws to make it 98-91, the wheels fell off.
Luol Deng, who is 1-for-18 from 3-point range in the series, missed from beyond the arc. Wallace swished a 3-pointer from directly in front of the Bulls’ bench with 2:19 remaining.
Then Nate Robinson, who led the Bulls with 28 points in his first career playoff start for Hinrich, committed a lazy turnover that Wallace converted into a breakaway dunk.
Robinson had played a solid floor game overall, finishing with eight assists and three turnovers. But Williams, not surprisingly, got wherever he wanted offensively in the third quarter especially.
The Nets grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and shot 50 percent.
PHOTO: Taj Gibson battles for the ball with the Nets’ Brook Lopez during a 110-91 loss in Game 5. — Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2013