Short-handed Bulls hang on for 92-90 win over Nets
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org April 4, 2013 9:03PM
Chicago Bulls Kirk Hinrich (C) takes a jumper in front of Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams (L) during their NBA game April 4, 2013 at the Barclay Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Don EmmertDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: April 5, 2013 9:59PM
NEW YORK — Vladimir Radmanovic: Just the latest Bulls player to come in as a gauze pad.
Radmanovic played only 11 minutes Thursday night, scoring two points, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau singled out the seldom-used reserve as an example of why his team, with five players out with injuries, was able to come back from 16 points down in the second quarter before defeating the Brooklyn Nets 92-90.
Carlos Boozer carried the load, scoring 29 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Nate Robinson was the hero, hitting a floater in the lane to give the Bulls a one-point lead at 91-90, with 22.7 seconds left.
But Thibodeau identified Radmanovic as the player who stopped the bleeding.
‘‘Just the next guy,’’ he said in explaining how the Bulls are able to grind out wins under such depleted circumstances. ‘‘I thought Vlad came in and did a good job for us. Next guy up, held his own, had a big play, had a big bucket, so we had a lot of guys do a good job.’’
Thibodeau also had a lot of guys out during a key game for shaping the Eastern Conference seedings. There was no Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis, right foot), Taj Gibson (sprained left medial collateral ligament), Marco Belinelli (strained abdomen), Rip Hamilton (back) or, of course, Derrick Rose (left knee), who has yet to play this season. And the Nets might very well be a first-round playoff opponent.
By beating the Nets, the Bulls (41-33) jumped back into the fifth spot in the East ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and are now 1½ games behind the Nets for the fourth seed and home-court advantage.
‘‘Big-time win,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘They’ve been playing great basketball, and they came in here ready to play. We responded well, bouncing back from a tough loss in D.C., so this game was needed.’’
The game looked like it would be another loss. The Nets (43-32) jumped out to an 8-0 lead and stretched it to a 16-point lead by the middle of the second quarter. That’s when Radmanovic hit what looked at the time to be a meaningless jumper, but from there the Bulls chipped away at the lead.
When Jimmy Butler hit a three-pointer with three seconds left in the third quarter on an assist from Boozer, the Bulls had come back to tie it 65-65.
‘‘[Boozer’s] been huge for us all year,’’ Kirk Hinrich said. ‘‘We’ve been playing through him all year.’’
‘‘Big-time player making big-time plays,’’ Robinson added of Boozer. ‘‘Carlos has been holding it down all season. They gypped him from the All-Star Game, so he’s just showing the world what he can do.’’
With eight regular-season games remaining, there are still more questions than answers with this Bulls team, but as far as Thibodeau was concerned, the ‘‘magic is still in the work.’’
‘‘We know that we can beat anyone,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘We have to do it with great intensity, and we have to do it collectively.’’