Nets surge into Windy City to face struggling Bulls
CHICAGO — The Brooklyn Nets haven’t had as much sustained success as they have strung together in more than three years.
Never mind that heading into Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls, the Nets (14-18) are four games under .500 despite winning six straight games. But after Brooklyn used a balanced scoring attack to extend its winning streak with a 115-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, the Nets will attempt to keep rolling in the back end of a back-to-back against Chicago on Wednesday at the United Center.
The winning streak came after Brooklyn endured an eight-game slide. Now, Brooklyn has left their past struggles in the rearview mirror.
“It’s tough when you’re in the midst of an eight-game losing streak to think long-term, but you look back and at the end of that eight games, we had 56 games left,” Brooklyn’s Joe Harris said over the weekend, according to Newsday. “There’s a lot of time to right the ship. That’s where we’re at right now.”
Guard D’Angelo Russell has paced a Nets’ offense that has scored at least 125 points in three of its last four games. Russell finished with 22 points and 13 assists Tuesday against the Lakers. Brooklyn continues to win despite playing without guard Allen Crabbe, who has missed three straight games with a sore knee.
The Bulls (7-24) enter the game having lost 11 of their last 13 games. Their latest setback came in the form of a 121-96 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, but the Bulls demonstrated they are willing to stick together — even when physicality enters the equation.
Monday’s loss included a shoving match that spilled into the Bulls bench and involved coach Jim Boylen placing Oklahoma City’s Jerami Grant in a headlock. The incident started when Dunn and Thunder star Russell Westbrook got into a shoving match that led to even more activity.
Despite the 25-point loss, Boylen appreciated the way his players had each other’s back.
“That’s all we’ve been talking about is fighting for each other,” Boylen said of the incident, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We talk about being a pack of wolves, man. I thought we had some of that. I liked the look in our guys’ eyes when that happened. It bonded them a little bit.”
The loss dropped Chicago to 2-5 under Boylen and although the Bulls have been competitive in most of the seven games under him, they are still struggling to play winning basketball on a consistent basis.
Chicago has played the last two games without starting guard Zach LaVine, who sustained a left ankle injury, which the Bulls said would keep LaVine out of the lineup for at least two games. While LaVine will miss his third straight game Wednesday, Boylen was encouraged how LaVine’s teammates have responded to adversity, which included Monday’s incident against the Thunder.
“I think perseverance is one of my positive traits — one of many,” Boylen said Monday, according to the Tribune. “But I also know from this business that it’s a long season. You’re going to go through some difficult times.
“I look at this thing as a family. Your family is going to have moments where things are difficult. Maybe you communicate poorly. Maybe you have drama, an issue. And that’s a moment to stand up and reinforce the things you believe in.”