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Nets comeback falls short, season ends as Bulls take Game 7, 99-93

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BROOKLYN -- There's nothing more important than Game 7. Nothing. So when the Nets suited up tonight to take on the Bulls, who were without Kirk Hinrich, they knew exactly what they needed to do -- win -- and had no excuses, none, to get to the second round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat.

After the first half, the Nets found themselves down my 17 points and looking like they wanted nothing to do with the Heat in the next round. It was one of the more underwhelming performances of the season.

The second half, however, was a different story as Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans led the Nets to a big third quarter comeback, along with Deron Williams. The key concern, however, was that Joe Johnson was pretty much a no-show for most of the game (2-of-14, 6 points). Hard to win when your third best player has one of his worst games of the season.

Brooklyn battled back in the fourth quarter, but the fact that they had to make up a 17-point deficit eventually caught up to them.

Joakim Noah was fantastic for the Bulls, scoring 24 points with 14 rebounds, leading them to a 99-93 victory over the Nets.

Brooklyn's season ends in a disappointing loss at home.

Game Flow

The game got off to a slow start, for the Nets, who found themselves down 7-2 after some early jitters. That was before Deron Williams got going, hitting a long jumper and then picking up a 3-shot foul on Nate Robinson. Williams scored the team's first seven points.

Brooklyn once again struggled with Marco Belinelli, who scored seven points in seven-plus minutes. He was stretching the floor and getting into the paint with relative ease.

P.J. Carlesimo went to Andray Blatche relatively early, with four minutes to play in the first, in hopes of getting an offensive spark out of him. He even gave MarShon Brooks some first quarter run, much to the surprise of the Brooklyn crowd.

Blatche scored five points off the bench in the first, while the Nets struggled off the glass and with their interior defense, as Joakim Noah scored 10 in the first.

After one: Bulls 29, Nets 25.

Problem in the first for the Nets was that they let up six offensive rebounds in the first, and pulled down just seven total rebounds of their own. Blech.

Another interesting note, C.J. Watson, who has played well this series, didn't get in at all in the first. He did, however, start the second quarter.

The Nets bench stepped up the defensive intensity, and continued to be led by Blatche, on both sides of the ball. From there, though, they hit a huge drought -- the Nets had shot 5-of-15 from the floor in the first 10 minutes of the second, to give the Bulls a 13-point lead. Not exactly what they had drawn up.

A huge letdown in the second, as the Bulls entered the half with a 61-44 lead.

Change had to come, or the season would end at home against a short-handed Bulls team.

Joe Johnson finally got on the scoreboard with a free-throw make, which, yes, as his first point of the game was a big reason as to why the Nets were down by double-digits.

Gerald Wallace found his stroke in the third, hitting back-to-back threes to cut the Bulls lead to seven points with 7-plus minutes remaining in the third. Yes, they were back in it.

The offense took off, believe it or not, in the third quarter -- where the Nets struggle the most. With Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans leading the way. How about that?

Wallace hit three threes in the third and had a team-high 17 points heading into the fourth.

After three: Bulls 82, Nets 75.

Considering, not a bad stretch as the Nets outscored the Bulls by 10 in the third quarter.

It now became closeout time. Put up or the season ends.

Johnson had just two back-to-back awful possessions, as it got to the point where you had to wonder whether he was best served on the bench. At the 9-minute mark in the fourth, Johnson was 2-of-10 for six points with three turnovers.

Missed free throws were also an issue. When the Nets were trying to bridge the gap, Kris Humphries missed two key free throws.

Brooklyn pushed it to five at the midway mark, but Marco Belinelli was just too much -- yes, Marco Belinelli.

Again, it was a nice comeback for the Nets, but 17-point leads are hard to make go away.

In the end, the Bulls beat the Nets, 99-93.

Season over.

For more on the Bulls, see: Blog a Bull