The Chicago Bulls captured their third straight win by defeating the visiting Brooklyn Nets 92-76 on Thursday night. Of the eight players who saw playing time for Chicago, five of them scored in double figures to assist in achieving the Bulls’ 27th win of the season.
Brooklyn’s Shaun Livingston got off to a quick start by scoring the first five points of the game. Following that, however, both the Bulls and the Nets couldn’t get into much of an offensive rhythm. Halfway through the quarter, the score was 12-9 in favor of Chicago.
After a timeout, though, the Bulls found their offense. They went on a 6-2 run before Brooklyn called a timeout, but the break didn’t serve the Nets as well as it could have. Instead, Taj Gibson scored all seven of his first quarter-points coming out of the timeout. His offensive contributions were a large reason for Chicago’s ten-point lead going into the second quarter.
The Bulls were able to maintain a double-digit lead for the majority of the second period. In fact, they were able to extend their lead to 14 points. Towards the end of the first half, though, Joe Johnson scored on back-to-back jumpers. This brought Chicago’s lead down to eight points, 49-41, coming into halftime.
To begin the third quarter, Paul Pierce hit two threes while Livingston scored off a dunk. This resulted in a Chicago timeout with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter, as the Bulls were only up 54-49. Soon after, the Nets went through a bit of an offensive drought. It lasted long enough just for Chicago to gain a nine-point lead.
Brooklyn wasn’t going away, though. Andrei Kirilenko scored eight points and made the three that brought the Nets to within three points of the Bulls’ lead. Augustin answered Kirilenko’s three, which brought the lead back to five. Good ball movement allowed for quality offense and helped Chicago regain a double-digit lead. In the last half of the final period, they went on a 14-4 run to seal the win.
Towards the conclusion of the third period, Jimmy Butler and Johnson nearly got into a fight. Butler took offense to Johnson’s shove, and let it be known. Johnson wasn’t fond of it, so he shoved his index finger into Butler’s face. The two were given double technicals.
Gibson continued his dominance with 16 points to lead all scorers. Carlos Boozer, who returned to the starting lineup after missing three straight games, added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Butler, Mike Dunleavy and Joakim Noah each added 14 points.
As a whole, Chicago shot 50.0 percent from the field and held Brooklyn to 38.8 percent. They also won the rebounding battle 45-27. Of the 36 made field goals the Bulls made, 26 of them were assisted buckets.
The Bulls, now 27-25, have two days off to go along with the All-Star break before returning to the hardwood. Their next game is on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Toronto Raptors.