Bulls comeback bid falls short against Nets


by - Staff Writer -
Coby White dribbling against the Nets (Wendell Cruz - USA Today Sports)
Coby White dribbling against the Nets (Wendell Cruz - USA Today Sports)

BROOKLYN – For the eight-consecutive time on the road, the Bulls came away empty-handed as the Brooklyn Nets picked up a 110-107 win for interim head coach Jacque Vaughn's first win. When looking at the box score, most people would be shocked that the Nets were even in this game as they withstood 23 points from Otto Porter Jr and 21 from Coby White off the bench mixed with a 29 turnover performance to hold off a late fourth-quarter Bulls rally.

The first quarter was all about defensive pressure as neither team could get their offensive rhythm going. Lauri Markkanen had the hot hand early with a pair of three's as he was the lone starter to reach double digits for the Bulls with 16 points. Brooklyn responded with a terrific inside out game of DeAndre Jordan and Joe Harris to take a 15-12 lead midway through the first. It was at that point when the Bulls bench began to take over as White, Porter JR, and Thaddeus Young scored the teams' final 11 points of the quarter to take a 23-22 lead after one.

Looking to build on their lead, Wendell Carter JR. opened the second with four quick points to extend the Bulls lead to five before Chris LeVert and Jared Allen answered to tie things up. Buckets from White and Shaq Harrison gave the Bulls the lead once again, but it was the Nets who continued to respond. Down by five, Spencer Dinwiddie connected on a three, which was the beginning of an 8-0 run that now saw the Nets up 44-41.

Now up one late in the second, Harris connected on a step-back three to push the lead back to four before Dinwiddie and LeVert gave the Nets their largest lead of the day thus far 52-45 before pushing things to 58-50 at the break.

Despite the Bulls continuing to force turnovers on the floor, their defense couldn't overcome poor shooting in the first half as Chicago needed to do better in the second. Denzel Valentine, who continues to see more minutes in the past few weeks, got the Bulls offense off to a fast start in the third, with Tomas Satoransky helping close the deficit to just three. Once again, it was Dinwiddie getting the Nets offense rolling as Brooklyn ripped off a 12-3 run to push their lead to double digits 70-57.

In danger of getting blown out, the Bulls relied on their bench once again as Porter JR and Young began to go to work chipping away at the Nets lead, helping the Bulls close to 77-70 after three following a 13-7 run of their own to end the quarter.

With a new sense of life heading into the fourth, the Bulls needed a big final push if they expected to avoid an eighth consecutive road loss. A three from White was a great start as we now had a four-point game. The Nets refused to give up the lead as they continued to exchange buckets with the Bulls only to see LeVert push the lead back to 10 with an 88-78 advantage.

Now down 12, Young and White connected for five straight points to get things back to single digits, but Nets countered with Dinwiddie pushing the lead back to 10. Facing a 13-point deficit, Porter JR, began to heat up as he carried the team down the stretch. Not only did he score a team-high 23 points on the afternoon, but he also came up huge in the fourth scoring 14 points, including three triples with his last making things a 108-107 game with just seconds to go.

Leaving no choice but to foul, the Bulls sent Dinwiddie to the line with 0.4 seconds to go as the game was resting on his two free-throw attempts. Dinwiddie came through knocking down both shots as the Nets held a 110-107 lead with half a second to go. Needing a quick catch and shoot three for any hopes of a tie, the impounds pass was thrown a little high for Markkanen as it tipped off his fingers to seal the Bulls comeback attempt.

WINDY CITY UPSET RED CLAWS:

In the earlier stages of the afternoon, the Windy City Bulls picked up a huge win on the road 120-112 against an excellent Maine Red Claws team. For the most part, it was a very well-played game as the Bulls outscored the Red Claws in every quarter outside of the second. Two-Way player Adam Mokoka not only led the Bulls offensively but had a huge night overall as he flirted with a triple-double.

Mokoka was one of three Windy City players to top 20 points in the game as he led the way with 27. His 27 points not only led the team but led all scorers in the game as he added nine rebounds and eight assists to fall just short of his first triple-double of the season.

Daniel Dixon had a phenomenal game off the bench as he knocked down five triples to go with his 24 points with Simi Shittu, adding 21 points of his own in the victory.

Windy City used nine total players in the win, with each of them scoring at least two points and seeing a minimum of 14 minutes on the floor. Windy City is now embarking on a very winnable stretch of games where they could have playoff implications during the final month of the season.

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