Lonnie Walker IV turned to Mikal Bridges in disbelief. The Nets were making a barrage of three-pointers, and neither one could hide his shock.
The fans at Barclays Center were equally stunned as the Nets went from a sluggish start to a red-hot shooting display in a 118-109 win over the Bulls on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
Walker and Royce O’Neale each shot 6-for-10 from outside the arc as the Nets made 25 of 53 three-pointers, the most made threes by any NBA team this season.
It was the second-most in a game in franchise history, just shy of the 27 they made in February 2021.
“I looked at Mikal after Royce hit a three and he was just like, oh my goodness, this is crazy,” Walker said.
The stream of three-pointers overcame an awful start in which the Nets fell behind by 21 points in the first quarter.
The Nets made 11 three-pointers in the second quarter, setting a franchise record for most in a period, as they outscored the Bulls 44-19 after being outscored 36-19 in the first quarter. Walker and O’Neale each made four threes in the second period.
The Nets sank 16 threes in the first half, setting a franchise record for most in a half.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 24 points and Walker and O’Neale each had 20, with O’Neale tying his career high.
“I was hitting, Royce was hitting, but we had other players who were playing aggressive,” Walker said.
“Being aggressive, doing the right thing, rebounding, pushing the ball in tempo. So collectively, I think we kind of got engaged and picked it up together.”
It reversed how the Bulls came out firing to put the Nets in an early hole.
The Nets trailed 22-3 in the first quarter after six three-pointers by the Bulls. Chicago extended its lead to 30-9 and finished with eight three-pointers in the quarter in taking a 36-19 lead.
But the Nets adjusted. They switched to a 2-3 zone, something they have done sparingly this season, and the Bulls’ shooting turned cold as the Nets’ perimeter defenders swarmed the three-point line.
Walker opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and the Nets went on a 27-5 run. At one point during a 13-0 stretch, Bridges gave the Nets a 44-41 lead with a three.
“It feels good,” said O’Neale, who started the game after Nic Claxton was a late scratch with an ankle injury and had nine rebounds and four assists. “We’re a great shooting team. Everybody’s shooting well and sharing the ball with each other. Creating space for each other. I think we’re just finding the right guy, knocking it down, shooting with confidence. Myself, Spencer, Mikal, everybody.”
Dinwiddie, who had seven assists, scored at least 20 points for the third time in the last six games. Bridges had 15 points and six assists.
Cam Johnson had 10 points and a career-high six assists but exited the game in the third quarter because of right leg cramps. It was the same issue that came up two games earlier in the Nets’ loss to the Hawks.
The Bulls had four players finish with at least 20 points, led by 27 from DeMar DeRozan. Coby White had 23 and Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams had 20 each.
The Bulls (5-13) shot just 25% in the second quarter and made only four three-pointers after the first quarter.
“I was trying to encourage our group not to get discouraged,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said of the early deficit.
“They were going to make shots. Hopefully that was going to regress to the mean, which it did. And so we stayed with it on both ends of the floor.”