The late window of NBA action on Wednesday night featured the Brooklyn Nets taking on the Chicago Bulls in a clash of Eastern Conference heavyweights. The showdown lived up to the billing early. But after a tightly-contested first half, Kevin Durant the Nets decided they’d had enough.
Brooklyn steamrolled the Bulls in the third quarter en route to a statement win, reminding Chicagoans that a full-strength Nets squad will pose the stiffest of challenges come playoff time. Still, despite the nature of the victory, KD took the time to acknowledge the fans in the Windy City and a Bulls franchise that has taken plenty by surprise this season.
Kevin Durant and the Nets went on a staggering 47-10 run in a blowout win over the Bulls
With under nine minutes to play in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game, the Nets and Bulls remained deadlocked at 71-apiece. Just over 12 minutes of game action later, Brooklyn let by 37 points.
The Nets went on a ridiculous 47-10 run between the third and fourth quarters, emphatically dowing the Bulls in blowout fashion. Kevin Durant and James Harden combined for 52 points. Patty Mills busted out of his shooting slump with 21 points off the bench. In his first start of the season, Day’Ron Sharpe scored 20 points.
It felt like more than any old victory for the Nets. In Kyrie Irving’s third game back, Brooklyn destroyed the top team in the Eastern Conference on its home floor. Durant and the Nets made sure to remind basketball fans of the squad’s capabilities while simultaneously illustrating the defensive woes that have plagued the Bulls for weeks now.
Could this win swing the pendulum back in Brooklyn’s favor? Time will tell. Either way, Durant still recognized the buzz throughout the city of Chicago and even credited the fans with motivating the Nets to get a win.
Durant said the Bulls are “back”
Kevin Durant typically tries to stay in the middle of the road when issuing public statements. That said, even KD knows it’s hard to ignore what’s happening in Chicago this season.
The Bulls had the fewest wins (102) in the NBA from the 2017-18 campaign up through last season. Chicago wallowed under the leadership of former executives John Paxson and Gar Forman, as well as head coaches Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boylen. However, Arturas Karnisovas’ front office finally has the organization kicking into high gear, as the hiring of Billy Donovan and shrewd offseason acquisitions have made a tremendous amount of difference.
Now, the Bulls find themselves on top of the Eastern Conference, and the Windy City is seeing red again. Durant has noticed. He said as much (h/t K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago) after Wednesday’s game, adding that the energy in the United Center also gave the Nets some much-needed juice.
“The crowd is starting to rally around the team. The city, you can feel it that they’re starting to understand that Chicago Bulls basketball is back. So for us to come in here and win in this fashion means a lot to us.”–Kevin Durant
The Bulls keep changing narratives. DeMar DeRozan went from questionable signing to legitimate MVP candidate. Zach LaVine’s role in team success has finally put an end to the notion that he’s an “empty stats” player.
Yet, for all the gains Chicago makes, Durant and the Nets — especially at full strength — are an entire mountain that could prove challenging for the Bulls to scale.
The Nets reassert themselves as top title contenders
Durant and the Nets haven’t played very consistent basketball as of late. The 2013-14 NBA MVP ripped the team on several occasions, signaling poor attitude.
However, while Brooklyn has looked shaky in the last couple of weeks, the win over the Bulls showed why the Nets remain as dangerous as any team in the NBA.
The Nets rank a respectable 10th in defensive rating. They’re nearly unstoppable on the other end with Irving in the fold, especially if Mills provides scoring off the bench and Brooklyn gets Joe Harris back in the rotation. Not to mention, Kyrie could become a full-time player in the very near future.
Over half of the 2021-22 season remains. But Durant and the Nets will provide a stern test for the Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, and any other team hoping to make it out of the Eastern Conference.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.