Apr 4, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT
It’s not all about that last shot. But that’s still an impressive last shot.
If this is a potential four/five seed matchup in in the East — and it would be if the playoffs started tomorrow — it exposed the Nets need to find a way to get Deron Williams making plays and winning them games when it matters most. They didn’t Thursday.
Carlos Boozer was the offensive key to the Bulls — 28 points and 18 rebounds for a shorthanded Bulls team that once again won anyway (no Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton and Marco Belinelli… oh, don’t forget Derrick Rose).
But the real key was execution.
The Nets came out with it early as they raced out to 18-4 lead behind Brook Lopez — he drove the lane, hit midrange jumpers and scored 18 first-quarter points for the Nets. That lead shrunk a little but the Nets still led 47-36 at the end of the first half.
However, in the third quarter the pace slowed to what Chicago wanted and they climbed back in. Particularly on a 21-5 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
The game was close through the end, with Deron Williams giving the Nets an 85-84 lead with 1:45 let. Boozer hit a fadeaway but Joe Johnson — who looked rusty early on but seemed to find a groove late — answered with a three that put the Nets ahead.
In the end, the Nets counted on Lopez and he could not make plays. First he got caught near the basket and in trying to pass out telegraphed it enough for Nate Robinson to make a steal. You can see that play above, but Robinson hit the game winning shot after.
Next Nets possession Nazr Mohamed shot Lopez down (or, if you’re a Nets fan, he missed a makeable layup). Still, down two with 5.5 seconds left the Nets could tie — however Lopez missed a good look 21-foot baseline jumper as time ran out and the Bulls win.
The win gave the Bulls temporary possession of the five seed, where they would face the Nets in the first round. The Nets should win that series, but if the question is execution late in games, the Nets will need to show more of that in a couple weeks