Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Not a good start

The Bulls lost to the Nets 107-97 in the first game of their 'test' in February.

I was too busy watching the Illini, so here's the AP!:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jacque Vaughn moved into the starting lineup and tied his career high with 23 points, and Jason Kidd narrowly missed the 62nd triple-double of his career in the New Jersey Nets' 107-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Kidd had 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and Vince Carter had 31 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Nets, who won their season-high fourth in a row.

Kirk Hinrich had 18 points for the Bulls, who lost their second in a row for their first two-game losing streak since late December.

Vaughn shot 8-for-12 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line, providing the Nets with a much-needed third offensive option behind Carter and Kidd. Vaughn took over the spot in the starting lineup formerly occupied by Rodney Buford, who sprained his ankle in New Jersey's previous game at Utah and will be sidelined for at least a month.

The Nets used their 14th different starting lineup of the season.

Chicago led 49-48 at halftime behind 11 points from Ben Gordon, helping the Bulls to a 23-0 advantage in bench scoring over the first two quarters.

New Jersey didn't get a single point from any of its reserves until Jabari Smith sank a 19-footer midway through the third quarter as part of a 21-3 run that gave the Nets control.

Kidd began the run with a three-point play, hitting a 20-foot jumper as he was fouled after pump-faking Bulls rookie Chris Duhon into the air.

Carter, taking particular relish in going against defender Andres Nocioni, had a nifty spin move leading to a high-arching layup and three-point play that made it 62-51. He later sank a 3-pointer over Nocioni to make it 65-53.

Chicago pulled within eight points twice in the final quarter but got no closer, losing for just the third time in its past 15 games.

The game was on Comcast, so I couldn't record it. (Interesting note: I harassed the Comcast booth at the Cubs Convention, and they claimed a deal was in place with Dish Network, but Dish didn't want to deploy the channel yet to avoid paying a few months).

But it looks like the same weaknesses that the Bulls overcame the past few games are now starting to catch up to them. The starters were poor again, with a combined 36 points (and 18 of those from Hinrich). And the Bulls defense allowed the Nets to score 100 points. 3 out of the last 4 opponents have done that now.

A loonnnng break is coming, as their next game in Miami isn't until Saturday. Bulls Blog will not be taking a similar break though. I swear I will get links up one of these days!