With 2:11 remaining in the second quarter, Allen Crabbe had a layup at the rim that would push the Nets’ lead over the Bulls into double digits at 57-46. Brooklyn wouldn’t look back after.
The Nets hit a franchise-record 24 threes to spark the team to a dominant 124-96 victory over the Bulls at the United Center and secure their first season series win over Chicago in eight years. It was a complete performance by Kenny Atkinson’s side in the 28-point result – their second biggest margin of victory of the season. They had an incredible night in moving the ball with 36 assists and held the home side to 40.9 percent shooting.
Quincy Acy led the Nets with a career-high 21 points while former Brooklyn player Sean Kilpatrick led the short-handed Bulls with 20 points. The Nets will now travel to Barclays Center looking to get their first three-game win streak of the year when they finish off their home and home series against the Bulls on Monday – Fan Appreciation Night.
Here are three observations:
Brooklyn has won four of its last five games on the road and Acy is a big part of that success. The veteran reserve has played in four of those five road games, averaging 11.5 points and hitting 57 percent on field goals.
After struggling on threes earlier this season, Acy has been lights out in that area in his last four road games – shooting 52 percent. In order for the Nets’ offensive to be at its best, the team’s shooters have to be on. Atkinson often calls it gravity, meaning that defenders can’t leave any player on the floor open. Acy is important part of that as he often provides spacing from the power forward and center positions when he’s on the floor. The 27-year-old has also continued to play the scrappy, gritty defense that made him a valuable player in his six years in the NBA.
There were a lot of positives in this game, more than this space can probably fit, but the Nets’ work on the defensive end was noteworthy. Nets held the Bulls to just 40.9 percent shooting, including a quiet night from downtown (20.7 percent). The latter is especially impressive as coming into Saturday night’s game, Chicago was actually the hottest team in the league in three-point shooting over the past three games – hitting 48 percent.
Now, obviously there were some factors that benefitted Brooklyn in its stingy defense. The Bulls were without their standout rookie Lauri Markkanen and were also missing Kris Dunn. But instead of allowing the hosts to get into the game, the Nets were relentless from the start. They wouldn’t fall into the mistakes that plagued them throughout the season in terms of playing to their opponents.
The Nets are now 13-1 this season when holding their opponent under 100 points.
The 25-year-old has struggled to find consistency at times this season, but he’s been assertive in his last two outings – both Nets wins. Crabbe is averaging 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds on 52 percent shooting in that stretch.
After the game, Crabbe pointed to the Nets’ effective ball movement as the reason why he was able to find so many good looks throughout the game. He would have likely added to his 20 points on Saturday if the Nets hadn’t built a 19-pont lead heading into the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see if this current run can carry over to Brooklyn’s final two games of the season.