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Bulls 90, Nets 82

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Luol Deng rebounded from a sub-par Game 1 to score 15 points and grab 10 rebounds and Carlos Boozer added 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 90-82 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Monday night. The Bulls evened the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal best-of-seven series at 1-1.

The Bulls, who were embarrassed by the Nets, 106-89, in Game 1 Saturday, played with more intensity, especially on the defensive end, controlling the tempo and the action from the opening tip.

The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, then held on down the stretch after the Nets sliced the lead to four twice.

Game 3 will be played in Chicago on Thursday.

Besides Deng and Boozer, the Bulls received 13 points from Kirk Hinrich and 11 each from Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson.

The Nets got 21 points from Brook Lopez and 17 from Joe Johnson. Deron Williams had a dismal night, connecting on just 1 of 9 nine from the floor, scoring eight points. He did manager to record 10 assists.

The first quarter was played to a much slower pace than in Game 1, which was beneficial to the Bulls, who led 20-17 at the end of the first period. The Nets missed their first six shots from the floor, while the Bulls' big men -- Nazr Mohammed and Boozer -- hurt the Nets from the short perimeter, both hitting two outside shots in the quarter.

Deng, who had a miserable Game 1, hitting just 3 of 11 from the floor for six points, made three shots in the first quarter alone on Monday.

Marco Belinelli, who had 13 points off the bench in Game 1, scored on consecutive possessions for the Bulls, both on drives to the basket, giving Chicago its biggest lead of the game at 34-27 and causing Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo to call a time out.

C.J. Watson, who scored 14 key points off the bench for the Nets against his former team, scored the last five points of the half, including a falling away 24-footer at the buzzer, bring the Nets to within 47-46 at the half.

Deng had 11 in the first half to lead the Bulls, while Lopez had 14, including eight straight in the second quarter, to pace the Nets.

The Bulls put the defensive clamps down on the Nets in the third quarter, as Brooklyn missed 10 of their first 12 attempts in the period. Meanwhile, the Bulls went on a 7-0 run midway through the period, capped by a breakaway slam from Jimmy Butler, giving Chicago a 67-55 lead with 2:53 left in the third.

The Bulls went into the fourth quarter in command, leading 69-57.

The Nets shot a dismal 2-for-19 from the floor in the third quarter. After shooting 56 percent from the floor in the win over the Bulls Saturday, the Nets were connecting on just 34 percent of their shots, two of 12 (16 percent) from 3-point range.

Williams was 1-for-8, and Gerald Wallace 1 of 7. The Nets had 60 points in the first half in Saturday's win. They entered the fourth quarter Monday with just 57 points.

The Bulls outscored the Nets 22-11 in the third period. It was the second lowest third quarter output by the Nets all season.

After the Bulls took their biggest lead of the game at 71-57 early in the fourth, the Nets scored nine straight points to cut the lead to 73-68 with 7:40 left.

But the Bulls scored five straight to push the lead back into double digits, capped by Robinson's long 3-pointer, giving the Bulls a 78-68 lead with 6:15 remaining.

NOTES: Before the game, Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau said that Noah would be limited in his playing time due to the plantar faciitis that he has in his right foot. "He'll go somewhere between 20 to 25 minutes," Thibodeau said. "He'll start and we'll see how the game unfolds." ... Noah ended up playing 26 minutes and made two key shots in the final period, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds. ... Thibodeau praised Nets' point guard Williams for his fine play of late. "Deron Williams is really rolling right now," Thibodeau said. "He got his explosiveness back. The ball is going down for him again. He runs the team great and is making all the plays. He's getting easy baskets for everyone. They're all playing at a high level right now." ... Thibodeau said that his team was "disappointed about the way they played. We have to play a lot better than we did in Game 1. We have to have that sense of urgency. I always feel good about our team. It has to be a positive thing." ... Carlesimo didn't want to comment about owner Mikhail Prohkorov's claim that "we need just one more player to win the championship." It wasn't known what kind of player Prohkorov was talking about. ... The Nets didn't list a player being injured on the pregame report for only the third time this season, with two of them coming in Game 1 and 2 of the playoffs. ... The Nets are 5-0 when they win Game 1 of a series at home.
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