CHICAGO (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets know why they're struggling to score against the Chicago Bulls. Now they just need to make it work while they're on the court.
Brook Lopez had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots, but the Nets' rally fizzled in the final seconds of a 79-76 loss at Chicago in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
Brooklyn shot 35 percent for the second straight game and need a win Saturday afternoon to avoid falling into a 3-1 hole against the increasingly confident Bulls.
"When we get the ball swung to the weak side and we get some movement, we're fine," point guard Deron Williams said. "But when we just let them keep us on one side, we're struggling. We're struggling to shoot the ball, score the ball, and we're playing right into what they want to do."
Chicago had no field goals and two foul shots over the final 5:46 of its second straight win in the series. Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Luol Deng finished with 21 points and 10 boards.
"We did what we had to do to win the game," Boozer said. "In the playoffs you have to win different ways. Nothing is perfect."
Williams finished with 18 points on 5-for-14 shooting, and Reggie Evans grabbed 12 rebounds. Brooklyn went 5 for 21 from 3-point range and is 15 for 56 from beyond the arc for the series.
"The Bulls are playing good defense," Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They are loading up on the guys who are capable of scoring."
Deng led the way as Chicago grabbed control in the third quarter for the second consecutive game. The All-Star forward had 12 points in the first 4 minutes of the period, seemingly scoring at will against Gerald Wallace as the Bulls turned a seven-point halftime advantage into a 16-point lead.
"I had a few good minutes," Deng said. "I felt like I could have shot the ball a lot better. I don't know how many minutes, seven or so of great minutes. They could have sent me home after that."
Deng connected on four long jumpers before he drove inside for a three-point play off a foul on Wallace. A free throw by Boozer made it 54-38 with 7:36 remaining.
Brooklyn made one last charge when Lopez had eight points in a 10-2 spurt that trimmed Chicago's lead to 77-74 with 14.4 seconds left. But Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah each hit a free throw and former Bulls guard C.J. Watson missed an open 3 at the buzzer.
"I was surprised I was open and I just tried to get it off before the clock went out and just missed it," he said.
Joe Johnson got a cortisone shot for his ailing left foot and finished 15 points for Brooklyn, while Noah's foul shot was his only point of the game while dealing with his own painful right foot injury. Noah also had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
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