Nets 95, Bulls 92

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Brooklyn survived to force a decisive Game 7, holding off the short-handed Chicago Bulls 95-92 on Thursday night at the United Center.
Winning for the first time in five games in Chicago this season, the Nets led the entire fourth quarter. The clinching points were two free throws by Andray Blatche with 19.2 seconds left.
Game 7 of this first-round playoff series will be played Saturday at the Barclays Center.
After Marco Belinelli missed a potential tying 3-pointer, Chicago center Joakim Noah tied up Nets guard Deron Williams and forced a jump ball with 3.6 seconds on the clock. Noah had the height advantage but couldn't tip it to a teammate. Joe Johnson grabbed it as time expired.
Williams, Johnson and Brook Lopez all scored 17 points to lead Brooklyn. Forward Reggie Evans grabbed 15 rebounds.
Chicago played without Kirk Hinrich (bruised calf) and Luol Deng (illness).
Belinelli led the Bulls with 22 points, Nate Robinson added 18 points and Jimmy Butler scored 17.
The Bulls compounded their short-handed problems by getting into foul trouble. Taj Gibson picked up his fifth foul in the final minute of the third quarter, and Carlos Boozer was already on the bench with four fouls.
Gibson fouled out with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter and Boozer got his sixth with 32 seconds on the clock.
Brooklyn led 81-73 with 8:48 left when former Bulls guard C.J. Watson knocked down a 3-pointer. Chicago tightened up its defense and closed to 85-83 on a Robinson jumper with 4:37 remaining.
The teams traded baskets until Williams hit one of two free throws with 2:36 left to put Brooklyn ahead 90-85. The Bulls responded with a Belinelli 3-pointer to close to two points. Blatche hit a fadeaway, Robinson drained a pull-up jumper and the Bulls had a chance to tie after Blatche's shot was blocked by Noah.
Robinson drove to the basket. With defenders charging and bodies flying. His shot appeared to be blocked and a loose-ball foul was called on the Bulls during the rebound battle.
Blatche converted one of two at the line to make it 93-90 with 32 seconds left. Chicago's Nazr Mohammed finished a lay-in off a pass from Noah to cut the gap to one with 25.2 seconds on the clock.
The Bulls hit a dry spell early in the third quarter after Robinson opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Chicago made one of its next 10 shots from the field, but Brooklyn couldn't lift the lead beyond eight points and the Bulls used a 9-2 run to get within 69-68 on a Belinelli 3-pointer.
The Nets made just 3 of 6 free throws in the final 1:15 and finished the third quarter with a 75-71 edge.
Neither team played much defense in the first half, with Brooklyn shooting 65 percent from the field in the first quarter and 55.8 percent for the half.
The Bulls were within 47-46 with 3:08 left in the second quarter when Williams sparked a 13-4 Brooklyn run. He had a fast-break dunk and a four-point play after being fouled by Robinson, then added two free throws to put the Nets ahead 60-50.
After a defensive three-second violation against Brooklyn, Belinelli drained a corner 3-pointer to bring Chicago within 60-54 at halftime.
NOTES: Chicago endured its share of injuries this season, and now illness has been added to the list of bad luck. Deng did not play because of a virus. Gibson and Robinson were also said to be under the weather, but both played. For Brooklyn, Evans missed practice Wednesday with an illness but was in the starting lineup. ... Hinrich missed his second straight game with a left calf bruise. Robinson started in his place. ... Johnson said Wednesday that he probably wouldn't be playing if it were the regular season because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. ... The Bulls are 13-1 all time in playoff series when they led 3-2. The lone loss was to Golden State in the 1975 Western Conference finals. ... Lopez scored at least 20 points in each of the first five games of the series, becoming the first Bulls' playoff opponent to do so since Patrick Ewing in the 1996 second round.

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