CHICAGO — It came a little late in the season, but the Nets have found the formula that works for them. Picking up where they left off two days earlier in Milwaukee, they bombarded the Bulls with a franchise-record 24 three-pointers on their way to a 124-96 blowout victory Saturday night at United Center.
It was the fourth win in the past five road games for the Nets, who were 24-for-55 from three-point range after making 19 of 39 against the Bucks. It marked the first time in franchise history that they made at least 19 threes in consecutive games. Ball movement was a key with 36 assists against the Bulls after they had 30 in Milwaukee.
According to Quincy Acy, who led the Nets (27-53) with 21 points and hit 6 of 13 threes, both career highs, the catalyst for their awakening was a blowup by coach Kenny Atkinson after the 26-point loss Tuesday in Philadelphia that began their three-game trip.
“After that game in Philly, Coach kind of got on us,” Acy said. “The next day in film and practice was pretty tough. He called us out, and I think we responded well. He challenged us tonight to learn how to deal with success coming off a big win in Milwaukee, and we answered. We’ve just got to build on it.”
The Nets also got 20 points from Allen Crabbe, including five threes, and Joe Harris had 16 points, including a 4-for-5 performance from three-point range. Former Net Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench to lead the Bulls (27-53) with 20 points and Bobby Portis added 18.
The Nets really exploded in the third quarter when nine of the 11 baskets they made came from three-point range and one of their two-pointers turned into a three-point play with a foul shot. Crabbe had four straight threes in that period and Acy and Harris each made a pair.
“It was ball movement, and I just got hot and my teammates found me,” Crabbe said. “I kept finding the open space on the floor, and my shot was going in again for me. My teammates set good screens, and the point guards were finding guys.”
Now the Nets play their final home game Monday at Barclays Center in a rematch against the Bulls. “Our challenge is how we’re going to handle this, beating Chicago and having that great win in Milwaukee,” Atkinson said. “What does this look like in Brooklyn? We haven’t won three in a row. Now the question is, can we get the next one?”