Results: Brook Lopez scored 20 points through three quarters, then the Nets turned to their bench to beat the short-handed Bulls 93-89 on Friday night.
Since P.J. Carlesimo took over as head coach Dec. 27, the Nets and Bulls have shared the East’s best record at 13-5. And while I predicted that Brooklyn’s impressive record would cool off, it seemed to have endless inertia — until recently. Chicago (28-17) has won eight of 10 but Brooklyn (27-19) has lost three of four as Joe Johnson has averaged 13.3 points and shot 36.7 percent from the field.
So while the Nets and a key scorer have cooled off a bit, the Chicago Bulls have gotten hot behind a pair of role players heading into their first game in Brooklyn on Friday night.
A key bench player for the Bulls has been Brooklyn native Taj Gibson, and he could get a second straight start Friday if Carlos Boozer sits out again. Gibson had 14 points and nine rebounds Wednesday. And is it time Brooklyn experiments with a new lineup that has shown some results to get over the hump?
The Bulls have held seven straight opponents below 90 points and have limited the Nets to an average of 87.7 in the past six meeting. And even though Chicago has won of five of those the line has Brooklyn favored by as much as 3.5.
That doesn’t feel quite right. Brooklyn is looking a little ragged, Carlesimo has shown he will stay the course and the new coach smell might have finally worn out.
[information assembled from NBA.com and other sources]