A win is a win: Nets find a way to force a Game 7, beat the Bulls, 95-92

USA TODAY Sports

Win or go home. It's as simple as that. Down 3-2 in the series, the Nets needed to win tonight in Chicago or face elimination. A win and we're going back home to Brooklyn for a decisive Game 7.

The Bulls entered tonight with a number of injuries and illness, but really, who isn't injured these days? Chicago was without Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf), so advantage Brooklyn, right? Well, considering Marco Belinelli filled in for Deng and played an excellent game -- 22 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds -- the Nets couldn't put the Bulls away as they should have.

Gerald Wallace played well, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson had their moments, but not a single Net was particularly spectacular, which is what they needed to be in this road, desperation game.

One major issue as to why the Nets couldn't put the Bulls away was because they just could not hit their free throws. They made just 22-of-33 (66 percent) from the line. In an elimination game.

The Bulls would not go away in this one, a game where they probably shouldn't have even been in -- considering all the injuries and illnesses surrounding the team.

In the end, the Nets pulled it off, 95-92. But, again, it wasn't pretty -- at least not in the second half.

Game 7 will be on Saturday in Brooklyn. Yes, anything is possible.

Game Flow

Starting in place for Deng was Marco Belinelli, who scored the game's first bucket, and four of the Bulls' first six points. Make no mistake, Belinelli is a tough matchup for the Nets. Problem is, with him and Nate Robinson in the starting lineup they lose depth off the bench.

Both teams got off to a quick start offensively, as the Bulls made six of their first eight shot attempts and the Nets going 5-of-7 from the floor.

It was all offense in the first. The Nets shot 65 percent from the floor, while the Bulls shot 59.1 percent. Belinelli finished the quarter with eight points, six assists and zero turnovers. Deng who?

Joe Johnson had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

After one, the Nets led, 33-27.

Taj Gibson picked up his third foul early in the third, which was big for the Nets, seeing as the Bulls were so shorthanded. Joakim Noah was forced to return earlier than Tom Thibodeau would have probably liked to have brought him back in.

Offensively, the Nets were quieted down a little, but not by much. The Chicago turnovers really helped in keeping the possessions on the Brooklyn side of the ball. At the midway point in the second, the Bulls already had eight turnovers while the Bulls had just one, while the Brooklyn bench was outscoring the Chicago bench, 14-4.

Deron Williams then went and took over, after forcing Nate Robinson to pick up his third foul (on a 4-point play) late in the third. Williams had 14 points and eight assists (zero turnovers) in the first half, leading the Nets to a 60-54 lead at halftime.

It was third quarter time, where the Nets have been known to struggle their way through. And just like that, seconds into the start of the third, Robinson hit a three to pull the Bulls to within three points.

Thankfully for the Nets, they had Joe Johnson and Deron Williams to respond, plus they saw Boozer pick up his fourth foul early in the third, which was a huge call for Brooklyn.

The Nets seemed to have lost their "sense of urgency," as Marv Albert put it, as Brooklyn had gone flat. They let the Bulls pull to within one, with four minutes left in the third -- after the Nets had missed eight straight field goal attempts.

Hello, third quarter breakdown.

After three, the Nets 75, the Bulls 71.

Here came the final quarter, possible the last 12 minutes the Nets would play this season. Urgency was absolutely necessary.

It certainly wasn't a pretty quarter, with the Nets missing free throws and Wallace air-balling a layup (seriously, an air-ball), but the Bulls weren't able to get much going on their end either.

C.J. Watson sparked the Nets with a steal and a three, giving the Nets a much-needed 8-point cushion. That was followed by an and-1 by Kris Humphries, who forced Boozer into picking up his fifth foul.

Nate Robinson, however, wasn't ready to let this one go back to Brooklyn. He embarrassed Humphries on a drive to the basket and pulled the Bulls to within four points.

It was a quarter of ups and downs for both teams, including a stretch where both teams were making one stupid play after another.

A Nate Robinson jumper, at the 4:30-mark pulled the Bulls to within two. The Bulls were not going away.

The Nets offense just had no rhythm in the second half. Every time they tried to pull ahead, the Bulls would answer on the other end, be it from Belinelli or Robinson. With a minute left in the game, the Nets were only up by two.

If the Nets could have made their free throws, we would not be in this position. It's hard to pat the Nets on the back, really. Yes, a win is a win, but not really a confidence builder.

Final score: Nets 95, Bulls 92.

For more on the Bulls, see: Blog a Bull

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