Deng bounces back in Game 2 as Bulls even series against Nets
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com April 22, 2013 9:48PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 4:41PM
NEW YORK — After the Bulls’ embarrassing Game 1 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, forward Luol Deng warned, “I think every game is always going to have its own story.’’
In Game 2, the story line was revenge.
In beating the Nets 90-82 on Monday at the Barclays Center, the Bulls took home-court advantage and left Brooklyn with a swagger unseen from them in quite some time.
“Just found a way,’’ center Joakim Noah said. “It feels great to come out with a win. We showed a lot of resiliency.
‘‘We came out flat in Game 1. To come out for the biggest moment of our season and play the way we did was huge.’’
Maybe even bigger for Deng.
Noah was deemed the Game 2 warrior, playing with a bad right foot that has slowed him down since the All-Star break, but Deng, who scored only six points in Game 1, set the tone early.
He had a team-high 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out four assists.
“Last game, I tried to get everyone going early,’’ Deng said. “[On Monday], it was the opposite. I tried to get myself going early and tried to be aggressive.
‘‘Once we had control of the game, especially in the second half, it was about making big plays, and we did that.’’
And they did it as a group.
The Bulls had a one-point lead going into the third quarter, and forward Carlos Boozer made an 18-footer and guard Kirk Hinrich hit a three-pointer to make it 52-46.
When the Nets cut the lead to five with 7:38 left, Noah made a dunk, and guard Nate Robinson followed with a three-pointer.
Every Brooklyn action was met with a reaction, and considering the Nets aren’t known for their toughness or basketball acumen, it was a matter of time before they broke down.
Once Deng hit a 19-footer with 2:51 left, the Nets were all but done.
Noah was praised for his play in the fourth quarter — he had nine of his 11 points — but he knew who deserved the credit.
“We need Lu,’’ Noah said. “He’s the glue to this team. We need Lu aggressive, offensively and defensively.
‘‘He’s been doing that for us all year. We know that to get past Brooklyn, we need Luol Deng.’’
They also need coach Tom Thibodeau, whose adjustments from Game 1 were obvious.
The Bulls walled off the paint and used backside help to hinder the pocket pass that Brooklyn had so much success with on Saturday night.
“Watching the game film [Sunday] was embarrassing,’’ forward Taj Gibson said. “[Thibodeau] wasn’t going to let that happen again.’’
And neither was Deng.
“As I said before the game,’’ Thibodeau said, ‘‘I never measure Luol on his scoring. I measure him on his all-around play because of all the things he does for our team.
‘‘Sometimes you can take him for granted for all he does for our team.’’