Marco Belinelli scored 19 points in the Bulls 83-82 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night as he continues to play well since being a named as a starter for the injured Rip Hamilton.
The Bulls haven’t beaten very many teams with winning records this season, but since the calendar turned from November to December, Chicago has seemed to turn a corner and has been playing much better basketball of late. The Brooklyn Nets, one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Conference after their aggressive offseason moves over the summer, provided a nice way to gauge just how much better the team has gotten since opening the season.
The 83-82 victory was a hard fought one by Chicago, but to be fair, Brooklyn was on their second game of a back-to-back and went into double-overtime on Friday night in Detroit with Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace both notching 50 minutes in the contest.
But the Bulls will certainly take the win as they move to 13-9 on the season – the first time they’ve been four games above .500 all year – and a half game ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings, as they sit in fourth place. Take that, Jay-Z.
The way the Bulls battled in the game was excellent. It was a back-and-forth affair until Brooklyn seemed to be pulling away with less than six minutes to go in regulation, but Chicago closed the game with a 12-5 run to get the ‘W.’
The Bulls dominated the points in the paint (42-30), fastbreak points (19-4), and forced the Nets into committing 18 turnovers and shoot 39 percent from the field. Joakim Noah (12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists), Luol Deng (17 points, seven rebounds), and Carlos Boozer (15 points, six rebounds) all put up big numbers for the win. But it was Marco Belinelli (19 points), who drained two clutch free-throws to give the Bulls a four-point lead with 4.9 seconds to go, nullifying Deron Williams' three-point make at the end of the game that stood out the most. Rookie Marquis Teague (eight points, two assists) continues to display a huge jump in development – and confidence – from the beginning of the season until now.
Nate Robinson (six points, five assists) started in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich and didn’t have his best game offensively while matching up with Deron Williams. He shot just 3-8 from the field and missed both of his three-point attempts. Luol Deng took 18 shots to get his 17 points on Saturday night, a less than efficient outing from the Bulls All-Star.
Chicago was dominated by Brooklyn on the boards to the tune of 41-33 (a season low). On most nights, a disparity like that would’ve resulted in a loss, but the team managed to win anyway. Turnovers continue to plague the Bulls as they gave the ball away 13 times with Noah accounting for five of them himself. Jimmy Butler played 17 minutes in the ball game but was 0-4 from the field, going scoreless.
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