The Brooklyn Nets lost at home for just the 2nd time in their last 12 games at Barclays Center, as the Chicago Bulls tore through the Nets in a 125-106 win.
In what is shaping up to be a tight race for positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Brooklyn Nets may come to regret a bad loss at home Friday night to the moribund Chicago Bulls, who avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Nets with a 125-106 win at Barclays Center.
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The Bulls (13-42) won for just the third time in their last 19 games with hot shooting and a huge night on the glass.
The Nets (29-28) finished 1-2 in their final homestand before the All-Star break, with the loss to Chicago basically offsetting their big win Wednesday over the Denver Nuggets.
Brooklyn won on Wednesday despite giving up 130 points because they were red-hot from 3-point range. The Nets lost on Friday by giving up 125 points on a night when they were far from sizzling.
The Nets shot just 41.5 percent overall (39-for-94) and made 13-of-41 (31.7 percent) from deep, while the Bulls hit 54.1 percent (46-for-85) overall and were 14-for-28 (50 percent) from long range.
Chicago just kept making shots and Brooklyn’s deficit just kept growing larger.
The Nets were able to get the margin inside double digits just once in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 106-97 on Joe Harris‘ 10-foot floater with 5:28 remaining, but the Bulls answered with a 14-4 burst to put the game away.
There were positives in the loss.
Allen Crabbe got his first extended playing time in his second game back from a knee injury and dropped in 19 points. And Caris LeVert played his first game since dislocating his right foot on Nov. 12 and logged 15 minutes, looking much less rusty than could have been expected.
The Bulls have struggled this season, but might have put together the core of their rebuild with the addition of Otto Porter from the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Porter made his Chicago debut on Friday with just a shootaround walk-through with his new team and scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, hitting 4-of-5 from long range.
The other two pieces of what could be the Bulls’ new core played even bigger roles in the win. Second-year forward Lauri Markkanen posted game-highs of 31 points and 18 rebounds, also blocking two shots, and young veteran guard Zach LaVine dropped 26 points.
The Bulls outrebounded the Nets 50-33 and had a 58-50 edge in paint points and their hot shooting offset their 18 turnovers, which led to 19 Brooklyn points. The Nets committed 13 turnovers — eight in the first half — which Chicago turned into 13 points.
Brooklyn’s two biggest problems were offense and defense. The Nets couldn’t make a shot and the Bulls, it seemed, couldn’t miss. Sometimes it’s just that simple.
D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 23 points and six assists, but was just 8-for-21 overall and made just 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
Crabbe and Joe Harris scored 19 points each, Jarrett Allen logged 12 points and 10 rebounds and LeVert finished with 11 points and matched a career-high with five steals in just 15 minutes.
Kris Dunn provided 14 points and nine assists for Chicago.
The Nets have two games left before the All-Star break, both on the road. The first will be Monday night against the Toronto Raptors, with tip set for 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
Here are three takeaways from a potentially costly loss to the Bulls.