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CHICAGO — Brook Lopez led the way as the Nets edged the Bulls, 105-102, last night at the United Center.
The Nets (8-20) got their second road victory behind Lopez’s strong game. He had 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Thaddeus Young added 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Nets ended their losing streak at five games, and coach Lionel Hollins liked what he saw from his team.
“We came out from the start with a lot of fight,” he said. “A lot of purpose. We took the fight right to them. When they made a run, we jumped on them. In the fourth quarter, we held them off and we made some outstanding plays.”
Young started hot and scored 10 early points. After the loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday, he said he wanted to make his presence felt.
“I played off Jarrett and Joe with the ball. I was finding seams and gaps. I was able to do a lot of things off of those guys,” he said. “We were running the stuff we had been running.”
The Nets opened a 12-point lead in the third quarter as the Bulls missed 11 straight shots from the field.
Many of the Nets, most notably Lopez, admitted that their energy was low against Minnesota. He was happy to see that many of his teammates answered the call.
“We came in focused and energetic,” Lopez said. “We did a great job at responding to runs. And we were pulling for each other. It’s a huge plus for us. You see Willie [Reed, who had 11 points in 13 minutes] come into the game. We just need plays like that. We more of that from everyone.”
The Bulls (15-11), who were led by Jimmy Butler (24 points) and Pau Gasol (20), made a run late in the fourth quarter. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said the Nets, who had 51 rebounds and 16 second-chance points, just withstood it.
“The biggest thing was we held them but we wouldn’t be there for the next guy,” Hoiberg said. “The last couple of games, it got away from us. We’ll get it back tomorrow and hopefully make improvements.”
The Nets had a balanced attack because of scoring help from Wayne Ellington (13 points), Bojan Bogdanovic (12) and Reed.
“We battled against those guys,” Hollins said. “We battled against bigger guys and Thad did a great job rebounding against those guys. I thought it was a great team run.”
Young, who had his third double-double in five games, echoed Hollins’ sentiments.
“The Bulls are a good team. A playoff team. It’s huge for us,” he said. “It’s huge for the morale of the team. After the last game, we wanted to come out and play with some energy and get off to a good start.”
The Nets’ next game is tomorrow against their former point guard, Deron Williams, and the Mavericks.
Notes & quotes: Williams recently summed up his three seasons with the Nets for Yahoo Sports: “It took a lot out of me, man, those three years. Some of the hardest in my life. Made me question if I even wanted to play basketball when I was done with that contract.”
Asked about facing Williams, Hollins said, “I have nothing against the kid. I’m happy for the kid. But I don’t want him to win on Wednesday.”[/JACK]