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Communication on defense keys Chicago’s rout of Nets

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CHICAGO — Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson happily revealed the secret of his team’s stifling defense after a 105-80 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.

Communication.

“We just talked on D,” said Gibson, who notched 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. “We were covering for each other. Guys were flying around on defense.”

Meanwhile, the struggling Nets looked eager to fly out of town.

Guard Derrick Rose scored 23 points to lead the Bulls (13-8), who outscored Brooklyn 54-29 in the second half to coast to the victory. Forward Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for his seventh consecutive double-double, and forward Jimmy Butler scored 18 points with five rebounds.

The Nets (8-12) lost by more than 20 points for the third consecutive game and dropped to 2-9 in their past 11 visits to the United Center. Guard Deron Williams led Brooklyn with 17 points and five assists, while forward Kevin Garnett tallied 13 points and seven rebounds.

Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins dismissed suggestions that his players wore down in the second half. Garnett required an X-ray on his foot in the fourth quarter, but he said after the game that his foot was fine while declining to elaborate.

“It had nothing to do with fatigue,” Hollins said. “Every game, people get tired. I’m not using any excuses. They just beat us. We can sit here and say ‘did we not make adjustments, did they not understand this’ We just got beat by a superior team tonight.”

The Bulls built a 77-68 lead at the end of the third quarter thanks to balanced scoring from Gasol, Gibson and forward Mike Dunleavy. Gibson also made a difference on defense, as he leaped to block a lay-up attempt by Williams, setting up a lay-in by Dunleavy at the opposite end.

“They came out with energy and got us back on our heels,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I liked the way we responded in the second half.”

After falling behind by 12 points in the first half, the Bulls rallied to even the score 51-51 at halftime. Rose led the comeback with nine points in the second quarter by attacking the rim with a series of layups and floating jump shots.

Rose led Chicago in scoring for the third time this season and topped 20 points for the fifth time.

“I thought Derrick was more aggressive in general,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what we need from him. He has to continue to be that. The more aggressive he is, the better for our team.”

Hollins called a timeout with 4:15 remaining in the first half after Rose scored on a give-and-go with Gasol. Rose’s rainbow jump shot from inside of the free throw line capped a 9-1 run that gave the Bulls a 43-39 lead.

Brooklyn grabbed the first seven rebounds of the game and raced to a 20-8 lead before the Bulls strengthened on defense. The Nets followed their hot start by going scoreless for 4:05 until Garnett and Williams hit back-to-back jump shots, helping Brooklyn take a 25-20 edge at the end of the first quarter.

“The team played hard tonight,” Garnett said. “We just couldn’t put four quarters together. If I had a remedy for our second half problems, I would pull them out and give everyone a dose.”

Garnett picked up a steal in the third quarter to become the 16th player in NBA history to amass 1,800 career steals. Garnett, 38, joined Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant as the only active players to reach the milestone.

The Bulls won for only the third time in eight home games this season.

“We needed that one,” Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich said. “We’ve had some tough ones here, and hopefully this will get us back on track.

NOTES: Nets C Brook Lopez (strained back) and G Joe Johnson (flu) each sat out for the second consecutive game. … Bulls C Joakim Noah did not play because of an injured right ankle. His status is uncertain for Friday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. … Nets coach Lionel Hollins said he would not speak with players to address trade rumors. Recent reports have said the team is open to trading Lopez, Johnson and G Deron Williams. “I don’t say anything,” Hollins said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” … Bulls F Doug McDermott missed his fourth consecutive game because of a right knee injury. … Nets C Mason Plumlee started his third game of the season and contributed eight points and eight rebounds. “He’s had a few extra minutes lately,” Hollins said. “He’s done some nice stuff.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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