The Chicago Bulls needed a win, and that is exactly what they went out and got against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night.
The two Eastern Conference foes met for the final time in the regular season, with the Bulls managing to overcome a 16-point deficit to steal the 92-90 victory in Brooklyn.
Thanks to Carlos Boozer's monster night of 29 points and 18 rebounds, the Bulls picked up a game on the Nets, moving to within 1.5 games of securing home-court advantage in the postseason's opening round.
Jimmy Butler earned another start for the ailing Bulls, proving himself once again with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double. Luol Deng tallied 18 points, and Nate Robinson hit the big floater in the closing seconds to win the game.
A monster first half from Brook Lopez and the Nets proved to be not enough, as Brooklyn lost for the third time in four games. Lopez went wild for 28 points, joined by Deron Williams' 30 points and 10 assists, but the duo received little help.
The win moves Chicago to 41-33 on the season, but they still need some help to overtake the Nets for the No. 4 seed in the East to secure home-court advantage in the opening round of the postseason.
Let's hit the Bleacher Report classroom to see how this possible playoff preview graded out for the winners.
Kirk Hinrich, CHI, PG: C-
Things have not been easy for Kirk Hinrich since his return from injury.
In fact, he hasn't made it to the end of two straight games. He followed up Tuesday's ejection against the Washington Wizards by fouling out versus Brooklyn.
In the seven games since his return, Hinrich has been shooting just 30 percent from the field. The 4-of-11 in this one will do little to help that.
It was his defense that got him into the most trouble versus Deron Williams and the Nets. Hinrich was predictably a step slow, as he was repeatedly beaten to the spot by Williams. The Nets star was able to use that space to get off quality shots and find his teammates with ease.
Hinrich's offense got underway in the second half, however. He nailed a pair of threes to open the third quarter to help cut the deficit to single digits, but fouled out with 10 points and six assists in 33 minutes.
Jimmy Butler, CHI SG: A-
Since joining the starting lineup, Jimmy Butler has really stepped up his game. He's been playing really well with the first unit, and Thursday night was no different.
Butler provided some needed flash in the second half, scoring five points to close the big third quarter for Chicago. His three with 3.6 seconds remaining in the quarter tied the game for the first time since early in the first quarter.
Butler registered his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and his defense was right where it needed it to be for his team, pairing with Luol Deng to slow the Nets wing players. Joe Johnson was held to just 12 points on the night.
Luol Deng, CHI SF: B+
Luol Deng had his hands on a lot of possessions in this game.
Both offensively and defensively, Deng was active all over the court. He provided some much-needed slashing ability after a dismal first half. His ability to get to the rim and maintain control of space in the paint really helped the Chicago Bulls get back into the game.
Deng hit what he thought was a massive, game-tying three in the final minute, but his foot was slightly across the line.
Where he was most effective was on the defensive end. Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace were held to a combined 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Deng and Jimmy Butler cranked up the defensive pressure in the second half, holding the Nets to just 43 points after intermission.
Deng finished his 42 minutes with 18 points and seven rebound.
Carlos Boozer, CHI PF: A
Carlos Boozer continued his strong play in the absence of frontcourt-mate Joakim Noah.
He notched his eighth double-double in nine games, going for 29 points and 18 rebounds. Hitting shots from all over the floor, the veteran opened up a lot of penetration opportunities for his teammates in the second half.
Boozer gobbled up a lot of misses inside for some easy put-backs in addition to his jumpers and finished with five offensive boards. He had 10 points in the Bulls' huge 29-point third quarter.
Boozer deserves a share of blame for the Bulls' horrid first quarter, though he spent very little time on Brook Lopez. Boozer did allow Reggie Evans to get position on him a few times, but luckily he wasn't able to finish under the hoop.
A couple things made this performance all the more impressive. Boozer did not score and was 0-of-3 in the first quarter, and he was also 8-of-11 overall from outside the painted area.
Nazr Mohammed, CHI C: C-
There clearly was no other option for Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls, but yikes.
Nazr Mohammed's defense in the first quarter set an embarrassingly dangerous tone for the game. Brook Lopez would have had a harder time scoring against a chair. The Nets big man scored 18 first-quarter points.
Clearly Thibodeau had some strong words for his team during the intermission, because they came out blazing in the second half. Mohammed, in particular, really stepped up his defensive movement and intensity. In the closing minute, he came up with a massive block of a Lopez layup that helped save the win.
Overall, Mohammed finished with four points, nine rebounds and three big blocks.
Nate Robinson, CHI, SG: B
Nate Robinson was really the only hope for the Chicago Bulls bench.
With so many health issues surrounding him, Robinson's ability to provide instant offense was immensely important Thursday night.
He hit a big floater in final quarter, giving him seven points in the deciding frame. The floater over Brook Lopez came with 22 seconds remaining and gave Chicago a one-point lead, which wound up being the difference in the game. Robinson finished with 12 points and five assists off the bench.
The defensive lapses were obvious, as Robinson allowed Deron Williams to operate with ease early in the fourth quarter. His defensive ineptitude was at the forefront of allowing the Nets to retake the lead late in the game. After Kirk Hinrich's night ended, Williams went on quite a run offensively.
Still, it is tough to say if Hinrich even attempts that winning floater in the lane.
Chicago Bulls Bench: D
The bench was particularly thin for Chicago Thursday night.
With Nazr Mohammed and Jimmy Butler in the starting lineup and Marco Belinelli still dealing with an abdomen injury, there was little action in the second unit.
The injuries pressed Vladimir Radmanovic into service. The long-time veteran scored just two points but supplied emergency defense in the frontcourt in 11 minutes.
Other than Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague's 11 seconds of floor time, Daequan Cook was the only other Bulls reserve to see time. Robinson wound up at the line with a chance to ice the game in the closing seconds, but hit just 1-of-2, giving the Nets a chance to tie the game at the end.