Game 1 result: Nets 106, Bulls 89
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com April 20, 2013 9:41PM
Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah, second from right, tries to get through Brooklyn Nets defense, including Joe Johnson, right, during the first quarter of Game 1 of a first-round series of the NBA basketball playoffs, Saturday, April 20, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Updated: April 20, 2013 9:42PM
NEW YORK – The Brooklyn Nets owned the paint, owned the second quarter, owned the glass, and when it was all said and done, owned the night, in the 106-89 win over the Bulls in Game 1 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
And this is really what Joakim Noah rushed back for?
After originally being ruled out of the opening postseason game at the Barclays Center, Noah talked his way, not only into the game, but into the starting lineup Saturday morning, seemingly giving the Bulls an unexpected emotional lift.
Obviously, the Nets weren’t impressed. And for good reason.
Noah did start, but resembled every bit the one-legged player he’s been most of the second half of the season, as the plantar fasciitis in his right foot continued to turn him into a shadow of the All-Star player he was heading into the break, with Noah playing just 13 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds.
But Noah was a very small part of the problem in Game 1.
There was the entire starting five coming out of the gate slowly, falling behind 25-14 after the first quarter. Then there was the second quarter. Maybe the worst quarter defensively the Bulls have played all season long.
The Nets shot 16-of-20 (80 percent) from the field, including 13-of-15 in the paint for 26 points. Former Bulls reserve C.J. Watson scored 10, while the Bulls offense went 8-for-18 in the quarter. That’s how you go into the halftime locker room down 60-35.
It wasn’t like the third quarter would do much for the Bulls’ psyche, either.
Noah tried to grab some momentum back, starting the second half off with a dunk, but it was basically trading baskets after that. A game in which the Bulls could not win.
Then if things couldn’t get much worse, with 57.5 seconds left in the quarter, starting point guard Kirk Hinrich collided with Reggie Evans, went down on the court in pain, and left the game with a left thigh bruise.
Now, coach Tom Thibodeau is left picking up the pieces before Game 2 on Sunday. It will start with the health front, and Noah.
“There will be some restrictions on him,’’ Thibodeau said. “As we explained the past couple games, he hasn’t had a problem playing nor after the game. It’s more the next day where the soreness comes into play.’’
They will also have to run Hinrich through the trainers and treatment, and find out if they will have their leader running the point.
Not that Hinrich was much of a factor, scoring just two points in 28 minutes, while Nets guard, and former Illinois standout, Deron Williams put up 22 points and handed out seven assists.
Thibodeau will also have to figure out a way to make sure his team understands the urgency in which they need to play with.
“When you face adversity, you’ve got to be able to get through it,’’ Thibodeau said. “You have to play for 48 minutes, you have to play tough.’’
Thibodeau-coached teams rarely show up two-straight games playing soft, so the Bulls have that on their side.
“That’s NBA basketball, that’s what you enjoy,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s the challenge of it. You’re playing against a great team so hard-fought competition is what I love, and that’s what playoff basketball is all about.’’