Nets crush Bulls in first playoff game in Brooklyn
NETS 106, BULLS 89
By BRIAN MAHONEY
NEW YORK — Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and the Nets turned the Brooklyn blackout into a blowout, beating the Chicago Bulls 106-89 on Saturday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Williams scored 22 points, Lopez had 21 and the Nets ripped apart the Bulls’ vaunted defense with a spectacular second quarter, when they made 16 of 20 shots.
Joe Johnson finished with 16 for the Nets, who made their successful first season in Brooklyn even better with a victory in their first playoff appearance since 2007. They will host Game 2 on Monday night.
The Nets wore their road black uniforms and fans were encouraged to wear black as well to make it a “blackout” for the first major postseason game in Brooklyn since Oct. 10, 1956, when the Yankees beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series at Ebbets Field.
The Nets then came out white-hot, shooting nearly 56 percent and putting six players in double figures.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who had Joakim Noah in the starting lineup despite foot pain. But he was clearly limited, and there was no reason to play him more than the 14 minutes he got with the game never in doubt after halftime.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who spent hundreds of millions on player contracts last summer expecting a longtime loser in New Jersey to win big in Brooklyn, came on the court to thank fans for their passion and support, telling them that this playoff appearance was only the beginning.
And what a beginning it was.
Williams even had a reverse dunk in the third quarter, showing how much better he feels after ankle pain had him playing well below his usual level before the All-Star break, when he could barely jump.
Gerald Wallace and C.J. Watson each scored 14 for the Nets, while Andray Blatche had 12.
Noah has battled plantar fasciitis in his right foot and coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn’t want his All-Star center playing if he was injured. But Noah, who grew up in New York, wanted to give it a try. He finished with four points.
The Bulls are still without Derrick Rose, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last year’s playoff opener.
Thibodeau hasn’t ruled out the former MVP returning in this series, noting the end would be two weeks from Saturday if it went the distance.
That looked unlikely after Game 1.
Chicago won three of four during the regular season, holding the Nets to 87.5 points per game, but Brooklyn had 89 after the third quarter of this one.
Fans chanted “Brooklyn! Brooklyn!” before the tip and chanted Wallace’s name during it, recognizing his strong performance after a difficult regular season.
The Nets jumped out to an 11-point lead after one quarter, getting 12 points from Lopez. It was 38-26 midway through the second before the Nets blew it open. Lopez made two straight baskets, the latter a dunk after Williams juked Marco Belinelli so badly that Jay-Z practically jumped out of his nearby courtside seat.
Former Bulls backup Watson followed with a 3-pointer to make it a 20 point game for the first time, and it was 60-35 at halftime after the Nets scored the final six points.
Noah started the second half, clearly not running well, but was back on the bench before long.