Bulls 106, Nets 83
The Chicago Bulls made it look easy against the New Jersey Nets.
Jannero Pargo scored a season-high 27 points, and Taj Gibson had a career-high 22 points and added 13 rebounds to help the Bulls beat the Nets 106-83 on Saturday night.
The Bulls were coming off a 29-point home loss to Miami on Thursday night and had lost 11 of their last 13 games, but were able to take advantage of the NBA-worst Nets.
``It feels good to play, but it feels better to win right now,'' said Chicago's Joakim Noah, recovering from plantar fasciitis. ``We played with a little of an edge tonight. They're not a great team but it doesn't matter. We lost to this team before and it was important for us to come out with the right mentality and we did.''
A night after the Nets eliminated any chance of setting a record for fewest wins in a season by beating Detroit for their second straight victory, they fell behind by 21 points in the second quarter.
The lone bright spot for the Nets came when Jarvis Hayes scored the first nine points of the third quarter on three consecutive 3-pointers to cut the Bulls lead to 53-46, but the Bulls quickly pulled away for good with a 10-0 run. Pargo led the run, hitting a 3 to give the Bulls a 63-46 lead with 7:10 left in the third quarter.
``We just did not come out to play tonight,'' New Jersey interim head coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``We didn't have the energy we the past few games. We didn't have the drive or the intensity. Everybody struggled. I don't think there was too many exceptions tonight.''
Brad Miller had 14 points and six rebounds, and Hakim Warrick added 10 points for the Bulls, 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Hayes finished with 14 points, and Terrence Williams led the Nets with 16 points.
``We just didn't come with the intensity from last night. It didn't carry over. It's frustrating,'' Hayes said. ``We just couldn't get a stop. We fought to get their lead back to a reasonable, to seven. They made plays, and kind of got back out ahead.''
Chicago was without injured forwards Luol Deng and James Johnson. Deng missed his eighth straight game with a calf injury, and Johnson, who was starting in Deng's place, was out with plantar fasciitis. Noah played limited minutes, but the injury didn't slow him down. He keyed a number of Bulls' fast breaks in the third quarter and had dunks over Brooke Lopez and Kris Humphries.
``You can see how valuable Joakim is with his length and size. He was blocking shots and getting us out on the fast break. He is effective and can change the complexion of the game,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said.
With the injuries, Gibson picked up his play. He scored 14 points and had six rebounds in the first quarter and ended the half with 16 points. Pargo made a rare start and contributed 14 points in the first half. He made back-to-back jumpers during an 11-0 run in the second quarter.
NOTES: Johnson's status is unknown for Sunday's afternoon game at Detroit. ... Pargo made his fifth start of the season. ... Vandeweghe caught a couple of minutes of the West Virginia-Kentucky game in the media room just minutes before tip-off, presumably to watch Kentucky freshman guard John Wall. ... Harris was called for a technical from the Nets' bench for apparently arguing with officials.