NBA playoffs: Nets tie series against Bulls

Brooklyn had been down 3-1, will host Game 7 Saturday
2013-05-03T00:00:00Z NBA playoffs: Nets tie series against BullsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CHICAGO - Down and just about out, the Brooklyn Nets are suddenly on quite a roll.

And it just might carry them to the next round.

Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points, and the Nets again avoided elimination, beating short-handed Chicago 95-92 Thursday to tie their first-round series at three games apiece.

The series goes back to Brooklyn for Game 7 on Saturday, with the winner getting defending champion Miami in the second round.

"We just believed," Johnson said. "We believed in one another. In practice (Wednesday), we went over a lot. More so than anything, it was about who wanted it badder."

The Bulls hung in until the end, even though they were missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.

A layup by Nazr Mohammed cut the Nets' lead to 93-92 with 25.2 seconds remaining.

Nate Robinson then fouled Andray Blatche, who had missed a free throw only moments earlier. This time, he hit both to make it a three-point game with 19.2 seconds left.

The Bulls had a chance to tie it, but Marco Belinelli missed a three-point shot, and Joakim Noah stepped out of bounds with about six seconds left.

Chicago still had a chance.

Noah tied up Williams after the inbounds, resulting in a jump ball with 3.6 seconds left.

Johnson controlled the ball, and the Nets hung on.

Only eight NBA teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

"Most people would have counted us out, being down 3-1," Blatche said. "But we kept fighting. We showed that we have a lot of heart. Now that it's tied up, we have to go out with the same hunger, the same attitude, finish this off."

And the Bulls?

"We're a team of fighters," Noah said. "We keep getting punched in the face, but we fight back."

The Bulls stood their ground even though Hinrich missed his second straight game with a bruised left calf and Deng was sidelined with flu symptoms.

Belinelli started at shooting guard with Jimmy Butler moving to small forward and scored 22 points and tied a career high with seven assists. Robinson started his second straight game and finished with 18 points, but it's no secret that the offense runs smoother with Hinrich and that he does a better job containing Williams.

"Yes, it was big," Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It affects the game because he's one of their best players, not just as a defender."

Butler had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Chicago. Noah added 14 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. Carlos Boozer scored 14 and grabbed 13 boards.

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