By Brandon Robinson, WARR Contributor
Floyd Mayweather wasn’t the only one who found himself in the ring Saturday night.
Ending a topsy-turvy, back and forth, hustle and bustle series between seeds No. 4 and 5 in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls delivered the long-awaited knockout jab in the 12th round by defeating the Brooklyn Nets 99-93 Saturday evening in game 7 Saturday night at the Barclays Center.
Bad news greeted the Bulls and their followers early Saturday when it was announced that Luol Deng wouldn’t make the trip to New York for game 7. Deng didn’t travel with the Bulls and was only released from a Chicago hospital a little bit before tip-off. The Bulls were also without point guard Kirk Hinrich, who was a game-time decision and was scratched from the lineup by coach Tom Thibodeau right before the game. Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson played through flu-like symptoms.
Joakim Noah was sick, but in a very good way, scoring 24 points to go along with 14 rebounds and six blocks in front of his family and friends at the Barclays Center. As reported by ESPN’s stats and info department, Noah became the first player with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a Game 7 win since Kevin Garnett in 2004. And only three other players — Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Elvin Hayes — have had such a line in a game 7 since the 1973-74 season, when blocks became an official stat.
Though Noah’s first return to NYC in the postseason was a part of this series’ early story lines, by its end Noah was telling everyone about his pride for his adopted hometown, expressed most succinctly in his first twitter post after the game.
Big man Carlos Boozer had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Chi while slick-shooting Marco Bellinelli added 24 points of his own.
The Nets’ Deron Williams had 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Brooklyn in arguably his most complete performance of the series. Center Brook Lopez had 21 points on 9-for-20 shooting with nine rebounds. Gerald Wallace kept the game close with 19 points and five rebounds of his own, 11 of his points came in the Nets’ furious third quarter rally from their 17-point halftime deficit. Joe Johnson started to catch flak from the game’s end and will likely get more to come after his poor shooting evening for Brooklyn, going 2-for-14 from the field with only six points.
With the Bulls’ win, they now move on to round 2, taking their talents to South Beach to face LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the defending NBA World Champion Miami Heat. Last time these two teams met,
the Bulls ended Miami’s regular-season defining 27-game win streak Miami knocked off the Bulls in Miami on the final Sunday of the season.
Game 1 is Monday night in Miami.
- Brandon Robinson began his journalism career at 12 years old with the NBA’s Nets Basketball, hosting the kids radio show, Nets Slammin’ Planet on New York radio with Nets legend Albert King and Lynn Wilson. His show was featured on NBA Inside Stuff with Ahmad Rashad, Hoop Magazine, MSG Network and Fox Sports Network. He has interviewed everyone from U.S. governors, athletes and television personalities, earning the nickname “Scoop B.” He covered the Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn for BrooklynFans.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScoopB.