x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

NBA: Chicago Bulls level series against Brooklyn Nets after gutsy Noah turns tide

Joakim Noah played through the pain barrier to inspire to a 90-82 win over Brooklyn and tie their first round play-off series at one game apiece.

Joakim Noah looks for a way through the Brooklyn defence during their NBA playoff match.
Joakim Noah looks for a way through the Brooklyn defence during their NBA playoff match.

A gritty performance from Joakim Noah fired the Chicago Bulls to a 90-82 victory over the Brooklyn Nets to even their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Bulls bounced back from a disappointing opening game defeat to level the best-of-seven first-round series ahead of Thursday's third match.

Noah, playing restricted minutes after battling painful plantar fasciitis in his right foot, scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and finished with 10 rebounds and two blocks as the Bulls bounced back from the 106-89 loss in game one on Saturday.

"He willed it again, and we needed every bit of it," Tom Thibodeau, the Chicago coach, said afterwards.

"It's obvious we're a much better team with him on the floor."

Luol Deng added 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, while Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich chipped in 13 points apiece.

Brook Lopez scored 21 points with three blocks for the Nets, with Joe Johnson adding 17 and C.J. Watson contributing 10.

But the Bulls, who displayed an uncharacteristically porous defence in game one, limited Brooklyn's shooting from the floor.

P.J. Carlesimo said he had warned his players to be ready for a Chicago team determined to rebound after their opening defeat.

"We know what we are going to get from Chicago is what I'm calling desperation, for lack of a better term," Carlesimo said.

"We have to meet or exceed that, and that's a big challenge."

The Nets managed to pull within five points, 69-55, on Reggie Evans's slam dunk with 5:45 to play in the third quarter, but Chicago responded with a 9-2 scoring run.

After falling 14 points behind with 10:23 remaining, the Nets reeled off nine straight points to trim the deficit, only for the Bulls to wrest back the momentum with a 7-0 scoring run.

"We did a good job defensively," Deng said. "When the Nets made a run, we did a good job responding with important shots."

In the day's other game Chris Paul scored 24 points, including the winning basket with one second on the clock, as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-91 to establish a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round play-off series.

The Clippers led by as many as 12 in the final quarter but Grizzlies pulled it back to 91-91 with 13.9 seconds left, only for Paul to intervene.

Blake Griffin scored 21 for the Clippers, while Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 28 points.

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