Noah plays hurt, Bulls even up vs. Nets
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls defense came to play. With a vengeance.
No one expected the Bulls to repeat their uncharacteristically rotten defense from Game 1. Thibodeau wouldn’t allow that.
“You look at every game and try to analyze why you either win or lose,” Thibodeau said prior to Game 2 of the Bulls-Brooklyn Nets first-round Eastern Conference series. “Then you try to make the necessary steps and corrections moving forward.”
Written off after their Game 1 loss, the Bulls recovered from their dreadful performance and defeated the Nets 90-82 Monday, evening the best-of-7 series at 1-1. Game 3 is Thursday in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV).
Analyzing Chicago’s 17-point loss Saturday must have been painful for Thibodeau, and in turn, for the Bulls who sat through that video review.
The Bulls responded.
That disruptive, physical defense — the Bulls had the fifth-best defensive efficiency rating this season — bullied the Nets.
“The Bulls, more than most teams, don’t give you easy baskets in the half court,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said before the game.
In Game 1, the Bulls allowed the Nets to shoot 55.8% from the field and score 56 points in the paint. On Monday, the Bulls held the Nets to 35.4% from the field, including 19.0% on three-pointers, and allowed just 30 points in the paint.
The tone was set early — the Bulls led 20-17, and Brooklyn shot just 33.3% in the first quarter. Chicago put on a defensive display in the third quarter, forcing Brooklyn into 2-of-19 shooting from the field and just 11 points in the quarter. The Nets missed their last 10 shots of the quarter.
All-Star Bulls center Joakim Noah, bothered by plantar fasciitis in his right foot, had 11 points, 10 rebounds and two brilliant hustle plays in the fourth quarter: He saved a loose ball leading to a Robinson three-pointer and tipped in a missed shot.
Nets All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who had eight points and 10 assists, missed his first six shots and didn’t make his first basket until 6:38 remained in the third quarter.
Don’t sell Thibodeau and the Bulls short on the offensive … [For more on Joakim Noah plays hurt, helps Bulls even up vs. Nets, click here.]