NBA playoffs: Bulls 99, Nets 93: Bulls win Game 7 on road

2013-05-05T00:00:00Z NBA playoffs: Bulls 99, Nets 93: Bulls win Game 7 on roadThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - Joakim Noah climbed over the baseline seats, his foot that hurt so much two weeks ago looking pain-free as he embraced his mother.

The first Game 7 in Brooklyn belonged not to the Nets, but to the guy who played here in high school.

"I'll remember this for the rest of my life," Noah said.

Injured, ill and just as determined as ever, the Chicago Bulls beat the Nets 99-93 on Saturday night to win the first-round series.

Noah had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli also scored 24 points to help the Bulls advance to a second-round series against defending champion Miami that starts Monday night.

Carlos Boozer added 17 points as the Bulls shook off injuries to two starters and every run the Nets tried to make in the second half to win a Game 7 on the road for the first time in franchise history.

"I'm just so proud of this team. We've been fighting through so much all year and to be in this situation, play on the biggest stage in the world and to be able to win and now play against the Heat, all these experiences, I (don't) take those for granted," Noah said.

The Bulls opened a 17-point halftime lead with a rare offensive outburst and found a way to get big baskets every time the Nets pulled close to win the NBA's only do-or-die game of the first round.

"I thought our guys, we took a big punch in Game 1, and we kept fighting back, and that's been the story of the season," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Deron Williams had 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Nets. They were trying to become the ninth NBA team to win a series after trailing 3-1.

They had a horrendous first-half defensive performance, and Joe Johnson was bad all game on offense, finishing with six points on 2-of-14 shooting, including 1 of 9 from three-point range.

With Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised left calf) out again and Derrick Rose still not ready to return from last year's torn ACL, the Bulls leaned on Noah, who could barely play when the Bulls were blown out here two weeks ago in Game 1 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He logged 41 minutes and shot 12 of 17 while also blocking six shots.

"It's disappointing. We won Game 6. We felt like this was our series, but they came out and played a great game," Williams said. "Noah, like I said, he's a warrior. He battled through his injuries and just had a monster game. We really had no answers for him down low tonight."

Noah helped the Bulls spoil the Nets' first home Game 7 in their NBA history at the end of their first season in Brooklyn. They had played only one Game 7 in all their years while they were based in New Jersey, falling at Detroit in 2004.

Chicago improved to 1-6 in road Game 7s.

Deng, tested for meningitis earlier in the week, was back in the hospital Friday night and unable to travel. Hinrich warmed up in hopes of playing before he was ruled out.

It didn't matter to the Bulls, who backed up Thibodeau's vow that they would have no excuses and played well.

Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said, "I think we weren't as aggressive as they were, especially on the boards and the defensive end in the first half."

Brook Lopez had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, and Gerald Wallace finished with 19 points.

Today's games

• Grizzlies at Thunder: 10 a.m. on Channel 9

• Pacers at Knicks: 12:30 p.m. on Channel 9

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