Live by the buzzer beater, die by the buzzer beater.
Two nights after sinking a game-winning shot, the Brooklyn Nets lost on one, as Jimmy Butler’s buzzer beater sent the Nets to a 101-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
“That’s a highly contested two with a pretty tall guy on him, I thought that was pretty good defense,” Coach Kenny Atkinson said of Bojan Bogdanovic guarding Butler at the buzzer. “They hit some big shots.”
While the loss was heartbreaking, the finish was frustrating for the Nets, who were on the wrong side of an 11-2 run to end the game. The Nets had a 78-76 lead to start the fourth quarter and didn’t relinquish it until the final minute, when Butler put the Bulls up 99-97 with 27.7 to play. Brook Lopez – who had a team-high 33 points – responded with a thunderous dunk to tie the score 99-99 with 12.6 to play, but that put the ball back in the Bulls hands for the last possession.
Chicago’s plan to get the ball to Butler was clear. Butler finished with a game-high 40 points; 27 in the second half and 13 in the fourth quarter, including the dagger that broke the tie with time expiring. The Bulls forward added 11 rebounds to boot.
“Excellent player,” Atkinson said. “I thought we tried a lot of different stuff, but he’s athletic and powerful, a 4 man playing the 3, so you need bigger guys on him.”
The Nets rued their chances to seal the game in the final minutes. As a 97-90 lead slipped away, the Nets missed on five straight possessions, including an inbound turnover and a pair of missed free throws.
“They hit a lot of tough shots,” Lopez said. “I’m disappointed in myself, I should have converted on a few of those last possessions and I let them get back in the game.”
Lopez still finished the night with a career-high (and Nets season-high tying) five three pointers, as the Nets won the three-point battle handedly. Brooklyn (13-of-33) hit as many 3’s than Chicago (3-of-13) attempted, but the Bulls made up the difference at the foul line. Led by Butler’s 11-of-11 shooting, the Bulls shot 28-of-29 from the stripe. The Bulls also won the battle of the boards 55-38 and second-chance points 24-7.
“I thought giving them extra opportunities – the 18 offensive rebounds – against a good team is hard,” Atkinson said. “It’s hard when you keep giving them opportunities. I thought that was key.”
Sean Kilpatrick had 18 points on Wednesday, shooting 4-of-9 from deep. Randy Foye scored a season-high 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, but missed a pair of free throws in the final minutes. Trevor Booker had a game-high 14 rebounds.
Rajon Rondo had a game-high 12 assists, Dwyane Wade had 16 points before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a migraine and Robin Lopez had 12 points.
The Nets return to action on Friday night when they take on the Washington Wizards. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Jeremy Lin (strained left hamstring) and Joe Harris (hip pointer) were both out for Wednesday’s game in Chicago… Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a game-time decision after dealing with an illness, but finished with seven points… After not leading at all in the team’s first meeting, the Nets stormed out of the gate on a 9-0 run, but the Bulls used a 16-5 run to close out the quarter to take a 23-20 lead. The Nets led 49-46 at halftime.