Chicago Bulls Vs. New Jersey Nets: Bulls Blow Halftime Lead, Lose 96-94

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BULLS ANALYSIS: Why Did Carlos Boozer Sit Out The Fourth Quarter?

Virtually everyone on the team was shocked when Carlos Boozer didn’t play at all for the last 14 minutes of Wednesday night’s 96-94 loss to the Nets:

“We were surprised,” Derrick Rose said. “But we’re not going to try to coach. We’re going to do our jobs and that’s to play. We’re going to leave the subbing up to (Thibodeau).”

And from Boozer himself:

“Yeah, absolutely,” Boozer said when asked if it was frustrating to sit. “You have to talk to Thibs about that. That was his decision.”

KC Johnson’s Tribune article says it may have been because of a couple of defensive lapses on Boozer’s part, allowing New Jersey’s Kris Humphries to get past him for a couple of easy dunks.

Thibodeau claimed it was due to “matchups,” but putting your main rebounding force, and one of your leading scorers, on the bench for an entire quarter when you’re down double digits doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sometimes coaches do this as a “teachable moment”, but it doesn’t seem logical when it possibly costs you a victory in a winnable road game.

Sounds like it might have been a “teachable moment” for coach Thibodeau, too. The Bulls face the 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday.

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Bulls Get Outrebounded, Outplayed, Outscored By 14 In Third, Lose To Nets

Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - Sasha Vujacic scored the game-winning bucket with 5.3 seconds left in the game as New Jersey halted Chicago's five-game win streak with a 96-94 win at the Prudential Center.

Vujacic ended with 13 points, while Kris Humphries came off the bench with an energetic 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Nets stopped a five-game skid.

"It was really, really, really fun," Vujacic said of playing in the game. "It was a big game and we needed to win."

Devin Harris had 18 points and 11 assists in the victory, and Brook Lopez and Stephen Graham scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Derrick Rose had 21 points and Loul Deng posted 17 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who suffered just their third loss in the last 17 games. Carlos Boozer turned in 12 points and nine boards in the losing cause.

"Right now it hurts," Rose said. "We have to continue to play. We have to get off to good starts again."

Trailing 82-72 with 9:19 left to play, Chicago went on a 12-3 run capped off by Kyle Korver's three-pointer from the corner to make it a one-point game.

The Nets regained a nine-point edge, 93-84, with three minutes left on a Harris floating jumper, but the Bulls scored the next eight points to make it a one-point game, yet again.

The contest remained tight the rest of the way, and Lopez made one free throw for a 94-92 game with 49.7 left. As regulation drew to an end, C.J. Watson hit two from the charity stripe to knot the game at 94.

During the Nets' final possession of the game, Harris lobbed an alley-oop to Lopez but it caromed off the front of the rim. Vujacic was at the right place at the right time as the rebound fell to his hands and he scored the putback to put New Jersey up for good.

The Bulls had one last chance to tie the game, but Rose's off-balanced three attempt fell well short of the goal to effectively end the game.

Despite the Nets running to a 12-5 early lead in the opening quarter, Rose got Chicago back with a pair of layups and Taj Gibson made a long jumper to tie the game at 18.

New Jersey held onto a 25-24 lead heading into the second quarter and Vujacic netted a three-pointer to put the Nets up 34-29 with eight minutes left to play in the half.

The Bulls fought back to tied it at 34 with a Boozer three-point play. They then took a 47-46 lead into halftime.

Derrick Favors' lay up 63 seconds in the second half was part of a 9-2 Nets spurt to start out the second half. Rose's trey stopped the run to cut the deficit to 55-52. However, Humphries' long jumper and layup put New Jersey up 65-56 with 6:04 left to play in the period.

The hosts held a 78-65 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Game Notes

The Bulls haven't fared too well in New Jersey, losing three in a row and 19 of the last 21 contests there...The Nets shot 41.7 percent from the three- point line, while Chicago shot 31.6 percent.

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Chicago Bulls Vs. New Jersey Nets: Six Straight Is The Goal

A six-game streak is the aim for the Bulls tonight.

That goes on both sides of this matchup; the Bulls have won five in a row and the Nets have lost five consecutive games.

The third of those five wins for the Bulls was a sloppy 90-81 win over the Nets at the United Center; New Jersey is only 3-16 on the road, and nearly as bad (6-9) at home, where the Bulls will face them tonight in the first of a two-game swing through the East that will take them to Philadelphia on Friday night. It's possible they could get snowed in there; another nor'easter storm is expected somewhere on the East Coast beginning on Friday.

The Bulls are in the middle of an 11-game stretch in which they play 10 teams with losing records (the exception: the Celtics on Jan. 8). They are 5-0 so far and really ought to make it 6-0 tonight. The Bulls got some more good news when it was announced that Joakim Noah's cast will come off next week; he's already begun preliminary workouts. He's still a few weeks away from playing again, but as long as the Bulls can pile up some wins without him, they'll be in good shape when he returns.

Tonight's game begins at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on CSN Chicago.

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