Nightly Grades: Bulls even up with the Nets
Grading Game 2s for the Nets and Bulls, and Grizzlies and Clippers.
The Bulls were fantastic. Coming back from the Game 1 whipping wasn't something many saw happening, but they fed on the energy and intensity of Joakim Noah, who played maybe the most inspiring 25 minutes you're going to see this entire postseason.
Battling painful plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Noah put up a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) and was a monster protecting the paint in the second half. His hustle and effort fueled the Bulls, and carried them to the finish line despite the Nets cutting Chicago's lead to four on two separate occassions. Noah's block on Brook Lopez was the game's definining play, but don't forget his offensive rebound and save to Kirk Hinrich, who swung the ball to Nate Robinson who drilled a 3. Huge, huge play.
The series now shifts to Chicago tied 1-1 and with the Bulls in possession of homecourt advantage. Quite a turn of events after Saturday's beatdown. The Bulls appear a legit threat in this series, as long as Noah's health keeps him on the floor.
Everything that worked in Game 1 most definitely did not work in Game 2. A lot of that is because of the Bulls and the way they rediscovered their defensive identity. But a lot of it also falls on Deron Williams, who was awful shooting and scoring the ball (1-9, eight points).
Joe Johnson hit some second half 3s, but finished 6-17. Gerald Wallace was 1-7. In the third quarter, the Nets went 2-19 from the field. Outside of Brook Lopez, it was a plain atrocious offensive effort.
The Nets' horrific offense allowed the Bulls to find transition baskets, which aided their typically mediocre scoring.
Now, the Nets lost homecourt and will have to win at least once in Chicago to advance. There's a much different perspective on this series than there was on Saturday.
Just a phenomenal performance. I could harp on their halfcourt offense in the 4th quarter, but the Grizzlies played great defense. The Clippers brought everything Monday night. They spread the ball, they got their bigs involved, they crashed the boards, and of course, Chris Paul was Chris Paul being Chris Paul.
The Clippers have so many weapons, off the bench, in the starters, up front, down low, from the edge, everywhere. Memphis has been completely outgunned in this series and no one new is coming through the door.
The Clippers' execution is so free flowing and so gosh darn talented, they're looking primed to make a real push in the coming weeks.
Really close! So that's something!
Look, Memphis missed free throws they have to hit. They made mistakes they can't afford. Lionel Hollins benched Zach Randolph with five fouls inside the final four minutes. They couldn't hit shots.
They couldn't hit shots.
They couldn't hit shots.
The Grizzlies executed to a higher level in terms of running the offense and creating looks, but didn't have the personnel to knock it down. They missed easy looks, they didn't crash the boards. They didn't do enough. It was as good a performance as you can have in a loss. But this is the playoffs.
And if you don't win in the playoffs, you fail. Even when you're up against CP3.
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