When looking through what has been a disheartening start to the season for Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets, their porous third quarters have been significant indicators as to the result of most games. Christmas Day when Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls visited Brooklyn was no different.
As the Nets were getting blown out, 95-78, on Wednesday at home, the team heard something from its fans that they've already heard this season; they were serenaded with boos.
As Joe Johnson was quoted in the team's post-game, "It's frustrating, but we deserved it."
No one envisioned the season would go the way it has for the Nets, who are now 9-19. Deron Williams called the season "a nightmare."
For a while in the first half, it seemed as though this game was going to be a close, low scoring battle. The Nets 23-21 at the end of the first quarter and despite shooting just 13 percent in the second quarter only trailed at halftime 41-38. The game was close, but the seed may have been planted.
So at what point did the game really get blown open? Of course, the third quarter. The Nets struggles kept up and the Bulls dominated the quarter outscoring Brooklyn 36-20. The Nets kept it close until midway through the third the Bulls' Jimmy Butler keyed a 21-5 run that put Chicago ahead for good 70-55. Heading into the final stanza, Chicago led 77-58.
Taj Gibson, a Brooklyn native, led the way for Chicago with 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots including a thunderous putback dunk in the fourth. Tom Thibodeau's club played a complete all-around game despite being without Luol Deng, who has an Achilles injury, and star point guard Derrick Rose, who is lost for the season. Noah was once again a presence on both sides of the floor finishing with 10 points, eight boards and altering numerous shots on the defensive end. The Bulls finished with six players scoring in double-figures. As a team, they held the Nets to just 35 percent shooting for the game.
For Brooklyn the numbers are not very good. Williams, Johnson, and Mirza Teletovic all shot the ball fairly well, combining to go 18-32, and scored 18, 12 and 17 points, respectively. On the other hand, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche combined to shoot 4-25 and scored 6, 6 and 7 points, respectively. Williams and Johnson also each failed to grab a single rebound, where the Nets were out-boarded 45-39.
When this season's schedule was revealed during the offseason, it was billed as a game between two potential Eastern Conference championship contenders. Both team's have dealt with a myriad of injuries most notably to Brook Lopez and Derrick Rose, both of whom are done for the season.
Coming into today, the outlook of this game has vastly changed to now being between two teams that are trying to turn their disappointing seasons around. Maybe the Bulls (11-16) will use this game as a launching pad to a fresh start to their season.
As for the Nets, their losing ways appear to have not been changed.
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