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History repeats: Nets fall to Bulls in final minute, 111-107

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Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

History repeated itself and it wasn’t the Brooklyn way.

The Nets were defeated by the Bulls, 111-107 Saturday night at Barclays Center in front of a sellout crowd of 18,116 — yet another attendance record. With the loss, Brooklyn falls to 16-7 on the young season. They remain first in the East. Chicago is now 16-8.

“It’s tough. I feel for our guys. They tried to play the right way and did a lot of right things. We got 111 shots at the basket and 46 rim-attempts, which is huge for us but it just didn’t go tonight,” said Steve Nash on the loss. “We had that stretch where we didn’t score and they had a run where they were making shots and that changed the game. I’m proud of the guys' effort. Back-to-back and like I said, we attacked the paint, did a lot of things that we’ve asked them to do but the ball just didn't bounce for us tonight.”

Despite being down a game-high 11 points in the third, Chicago came storming back behind the play of DeMar DeRozan and entered the final two minutes of play trailing by three. Zach LaVine put Chicago up 105-100 off a midrange jumper and Bruce Brown followed it up on the other end but he failed to hit the huge free throw to cut the deficit to two points.

On the following possession, LaVine was fouled and hit both free throws and although Kevin Durant answered with a 25-foot three, Lonzo Ball silenced the Barclays Center crowd with a non-contested 26-foot three from the corner (on a DeRozan assist) to put Chicago up 110-105 with 16.9 seconds remaining.

Out of a Nets timeout, Brooklyn got Durant the ball and he drove to the basket for a dunk to trim the deficit to 110-107 with 13.5 seconds remaining. The Nets were able to foul Ayo Dosunmu and he missed his second free throw, leaving the door slightly ajar for Brooklyn but the team blundered their last hope with simply a bad possession.

“We just didn’t make them. We just didn’t knock them down,” Durant said. “They made timely shots. We didn’t. That’s really what it is.”

Durant led the Nets with 28 points on 12-of-26 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from three-point range. The Nets superstar tallied 10 rebounds and four assists as well in 38 minutes of play.

LaMarcus Aldridge had another strong game, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes followed by James Harden, who struggled offensively throughout the game finished with 14 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds in 40 minutes of play.

“Blame this one on me,” said Harden on the loss. “I had a lot of opportunities at the rim that I didn’t convert that could’ve settled this game down. I thought we played a pretty good game. A pretty solid four-quarter game. They made some tough shots at the end.”

When Durant was told Harden took responsibility for the loss, the Nets superstar also took his share of the blame.

“I should’ve made more shots. That would have took more pressure off him [James Harden],” Durant said.

Patty Mills contributed 12 points in 34 minutes. Paul Millsap played his best game in a Nets uniform, scoring 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes off the bench.

“He was great. He did a little bit of everything,” said Nash on Millsap’s performance. “He scored the ball. He was able to initiate some offense, got some rebounds, offensive rebounds, got some steals and just did a bit of everything and his intensity was great. I thought his impact on the game was really good.”

Despite the loss, Brooklyn defeated Chicago in multiple categories that usually puts them over the top — rebounding: 55-47, points in the paint: 54-38, shot discrepancy: five more shots and in second-chance points.

The Nets started Harden, Mills, Bembry, Durant and Aldridge. Brooklyn opened the contest hitting three of their first five shots to forge a 9-0 run, powered by three threes from three different players — Harden, Mills and Bembry.

Brooklyn continued to roll offensively following their strong start while Chicago’s shots started to fall within the arc to keep them within striking distance. The Nets weathered the Bulls short yet hot three-pointing shooting stretch. Although Durant struggled in the first — four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field — Bembry led the team with eight points, followed by Millsap, who delivered strong minutes off the bench (seven points) to put Brooklyn up 34-28 after one.

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Bulls had the upper hand to start the second. Powered by their pace, the Chicago quickly trimmed away at the deficit and after a 7-0 run, knotted the contest up at 42 with 6:48 remaining in the frame. Chicago took their first lead with just under four minutes remaining in the second, but Brooklyn capitalize off second-chance opportunities to put them back ahead with little breathing room. The Nets closed out the half on a 10-4 run and hit the break with a 56-52 advantage.

Brooklyn had all the key factors and differentials in their favor at the break — rebounding (32-21) (10-3 on the offensive glass)), 15-0 on second-chance scoring and shot 15 more shots. Three players were in double-figures — Durant (12 points), Millsap (11 points) and Harden (10 points) — while Brown grabbed 11 rebounds, powering the second-chance opportunities.

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Brooklyn grew their advantage to a game-high 11 points in the third but Chicago continued to chop away at the cushion. The Nets were more aggressive with their takes to the basket in the third frame, but the Bulls’ pace and transition offense was the catalyst to their scoring. The 11-point cushion evaporated to only three points (82-79) heading into the final 12 minutes of play.

It was anyone’s game to take in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls opened the frame strong. Chicago took their first lead of the second half (85-84) with 9:28 remaining and ballooned their lead to six after a 13-2 run. In the end, the Bulls pulled away in the final seconds and escaped Brooklyn with their second big win over the Nets this season.

“We were up nine-ten and we just didn’t push the lead up like we should’ve,” Durant said. “We didn’t take advantage being up nine-ten points. We let them stay in the game when we were supposed to just bury them.”

Milestone Watch

With his 23rd point of the night, Kevin Durant (24,507 points) has moved past Ray Allen (24,505 points) into 24th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next up: Patrick Ewing (24,815 points).

Also, with his first of two blocked shots, KD joined the 1,000-block club and became the first NBA player to record more than 1,000 blocks and 1,000 3-pointers. He has 1,694 three’s.

Both James Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge moved up as well. Harden moved ahead of Sam Cassell with 5,949 assists. He’s now 23 away from Mookie Blaylock. Aldridge moved ahead of Dale Davis with 8,607 rebounds. He’s now 61st all time, 23 away from Terry Cummings.

Per Hoopshype.

Kerry on Kyrie: No Kyrie, no championship

Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports interviewed Kerry Kittles this week. It was mostly about the Kidd era, but Kittles, who made his debut as a studio analyst this week, took on the Kyrie Irving vaccination situation as well. In short, Kittles believes no Kyrie, no championship.

“No. They need Kyrie. They definitely need Kyrie. I just think that it puts too much pressure on those two guys,” said the former Nets sharpshooter. “I think in this era nowadays, you need three stars. You definitely need three high caliber players that can control the game with the ball in their hands. We saw what happened last year with the injuries across the League; the game is so fast now, you know? Injuries are always going to play a role in today’s game unfortunately and Kyrie definitely has to come back to help this team get to the championship and have a chance of winning it.

“Without him, if they can make the Eastern Conference Finals, that would be a great season. I don’t care what happens in the regular season. They definitely need Kyrie in the postseason.”

What’s next

The Nets will return to action on Tuesday, December 7 when the team travels to Dallas to play the Mavericks. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on Saturday night’s game check out Blog a Bull — our sister site covering the Bulls.