NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets managed to slow down one the NBA’s hottest teams, defeating the Chicago Bulls 96-80 on Monday night.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak by the Bulls, who entered Monday night with wins in nine of their last 10 games.
The Nets continued their solid play at home in 2014 and are now 12-2 at their arena since January 1. At 29-29 overall, the Nets reached the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 5, when they were 2-2.
Guard Deron Williams led the Nets with 20 points while guard Joe Johnson was not far behind with 19 to pace Brooklyn’s offense. Guard Shaun Livingston, who has been taking advantage of his starts, recorded 14 points.
The Nets prevented the Bulls from scoring a single point in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, helping the Nets established a 17-point second-half lead that they would not relinquish.
Bulls center Joakim Noah, who has become one of the best passers from the low post, was held in check all night with 10 points and one assist as the Nets forced him and his teammates outside.
Chicago’s defense, which was ranked second in the league in fewest points allowed entering the game, was abused most of the night by a fast-paced, aggressive Nets offense. Brooklyn’s defense was more effective, holding Chicago to just 17 points in the third quarter.
Bulls guard D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 16 points.
The Nets quickly had the Bulls defense on the ropes early with a first-quarter surge that built a 15-point lead. The Bulls had more turnovers in the game’s first four minutes (four) on Monday, than they had all of Sunday night against the Knicks (three). Chicago turned the ball over 25 times on the night.
Chicago battled back to get within three points, but a late surge put Brooklyn up eight at halftime.
NOTES: The Nets are enjoying a recent run of good form, winning five of their last seven. …The Bulls entered the game with the second-best defense in the NBA, allowing an average of 92.3 points per game. Only the Indiana Pacers (91.2 ppg) allow fewer. …The Nets are back in Brooklyn after a seven-game road trip. Their last home game was Feb. 12 against the Bobcats. …Bulls C Joakim Noah is averaging a double-double this season — 12.1 ppg and 11.5 rebounds per game before Monday — which is good for sixth-best in the NBA. … Nets F Kevin Garnett did not play Monday night as he is nursing a back injury. …Yahoo! Sports report that Nets C Jason Collins will sign a second, 10-day contract with the team Wednesday. Collins is the first active openly gay athlete in NBA history.
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