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Nets 106, Bulls 89

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Deron Williams scored a team-high 22 points and had seven assists and Brook Lopez scored 19 of his 21 in the first half to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 106-89 rout of the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Saturday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets, playing in the franchise's first playoff game in six years, led from start to finish, taking a 25-point halftime lead and coasting against a Bulls team that had defeated the Nets three out of four times during the season.

Six Nets reached double figures in scoring. Aside from the contributions of Lopez and Williams, the Nets received 16 points from Joe Johnson, 14 points from Gerald Wallace, 14 from former Bulls guard C.J. Watson and 12 from Andray Blatche.

Carlos Boozer had 25 points and eight rebounds to pace the Bulls, who must somehow recover in time for Game 2 in Brooklyn on Monday night. Nate Robinson added 17 points and Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler had 13 each.

The Nets played one of the most-inspired and best-balanced first halves of the season, led by the strong inside play of Lopez.

The center dominated in the first period, helping the Nets gain a 25-14 lead. Lopez also had two huge blocked shots, keeping the Bulls away from the basket.

The Nets grabbed their biggest lead of the first half at 43-26 on two successive power moves from Lopez, one a drive through the lane and the second a monstrous slam dunk, forcing the Bulls to call a timeout with 4:29 remaining in the second period, giving Lopez 16 first-half points.

The Nets pushed the lead to 20 (46-26) on a wild sequence. First, Wallace caught Kirk Hinrich's shot in mid-air, then fed Watson, who drained a 27-foot 3-pointer. The Nets made 12 of their first 16 shots in the second quarter, good for 75 percent.

The Nets led by an astounding 25 points at the half (60-35), by shooting 60 percent from the floor (24 of 40) and 83 percent from the line (10 for 12). The Nets scored the same amount of points in the second quarter (35) that the Bulls had for the entire half. Lopez finished the half with 19, Williams had 15 and Watson had 10.

Considering that Chicago was third in the league in points allowed per game (92.9), this first half was an absolute clinic.

The Nets continued their pressure in the third period, with Wallace scoring eight of his points in the opening five minutes.

Williams made a steal and reverse slam dunk with 22 seconds left in the third period, enabling Brooklyn to take an 89-62 lead into the final period. It was the first time Williams had even attempted such a dunk in months.

The Nets shot 57 percent from the floor and committed only eight turnovers.

NOTES: Right before the game, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said former league MVP Derrick Rose is likely out for the entire series. "With Derrick, he's worked very hard to get back and he's close, but he just can't make that final step. It's unlikely he'll play in this series, but maybe a week from now he can make that final step. For now, nothing has changed." Rose, who suffered a torn ACL in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, has been working out with the team since January. "He's been around us for a while," Thibodeau said. "No one player could ever replace Derrick, but we've done a pretty good job without him." ... While the Bulls were without Rose, they did get Noah back right before tipoff. In his pre-game media session, Thibodeau thought Noah was unavailable, but Noah was surprisingly announced as a starter. "It's the type of injury where you don't know how he's going to feel the next day," Thibodeau said. "Some guys completely tear it and feel better the next day. Joakim has had it before and dealt with it before. We'll see how he is tomorrow. ... The Nets and Bulls are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since 1998, when the Bulls swept the Nets in three straight in the opening best-of-five round en route to their last NBA title. ... The Bulls have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last five years but were eliminated in the first round in three of the four prior tries, including last year by Philadelphia. ... The Nets are making their first postseason appearance since 2006-07, when they defeated the Toronto Raptors in the first round in six games before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the second round. ... The Nets wore their road black jerseys as part of the "Blackout in Brooklyn" promotion.
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