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Bulls 99, Nets 93

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli each scored 24 points as the injury-riddled Chicago Bulls ended the Nets' first season in Brooklyn with a 99-93 victory in Game 7 of their NBA playoff series Saturday night at Barclays Center.

The reward for the Bulls is a meeting with the defending champion Heat, starting Monday in Miami.

After Deron Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 26.1 seconds left, Belinelli sank two foul shots to seal it.

Williams ended with 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds while Nets teammates Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace finished with 21 and 19 points, respectively.

The Nets began to melt under the pressure in the fourth quarter as Kris Humphries missed two free throws and Lopez had his shot blocked by Noah. After the block, Carlos Boozer drove for two points that gave Chicago an 84-76 advantage with 7:08 to go.

Williams got the crowd back in it with a 3-pointer that sliced the Brooklyn deficit to 86-81 with 6:09 left.

The Barclays crowd was chanting "de-fense, de-fense" when Nate Robinson entered the game with 5:45 showing. Ten seconds later, the chants were silenced by Robinson's jumper. Lopez missed a shot at the other end and Noah grabbed the board, leading to a 3-pointer by Belinelli that made it 91-81 with 5:11 left.

The Nets trailed by as many as 17 in the first half and were outscored 32-24 in the paint. But they began to attack the rim in the third quarter, when Wallace scored 11 points off a dunk and three 3-pointers.

Lopez spun around Noah and scored on a reverse layup with 2:03 left in the third to cut the Nets' deficit to 78-72. But Noah answered with a drive for a dunk a few seconds later and then drove to the basket and connected again, helping Chicago to an 82-75 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Nets shot 56.6 percent from the floor in the first quarter, but the Bulls held a 29-25 lead as Noah came up with 10 points, five rebounds, an assist and a steal. Robinson hit two 3-pointers in the first for Chicago.

Noah was the spark in the first half for the Bulls, who shot 56.6 percent and made all five free throws to take a 61-44 lead. Noah hit for 16 points in the first half, hitting 8 of 11 attempts, and had six offensive boards. He was complemented by Boozer and Robinson, who scored 10 points apiece.

NOTES: The Nets are the 21st team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after being down 3-1. They came into Saturday's game trying to become the ninth team to win a series after being down 3-1. ... Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (calf) was placed on the inactive list for the third straight game, joining Luol Deng (virus) and Derrick Rose (knee). The last time Hinrich played, he had 18 points and 14 assists in the Game 4 triple-overtime victory. ... Chicago won a road Game 7 for the first time in seven tries. The Nets' only other Game 7 was a 90-69 loss at Detroit in 2004. ... Williams had three straight double-doubles entering Game 7.
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