Apparently the Chicago Bulls decided to take Saturday off. Playing perhaps their worst game in the Tom Thibodeau era, they were awful. The team with the NBA's best record lost to the eight-win—well, now nine-win—New Jersey Nets, where they were outplayed in every aspect of the game.
Deron Williams scored 27 points and had seven assists. Kris Humphries scored a career-high 21 points and added 17 rebounds as the Nets clobbered the Bulls, 97-85.
The Bulls, trailing by 15 at the half, came out in the third quarter and posted a whopping 11 points to make sure that they wouldn't have much of a chance in the fourth quarter. Not that it mattered, as they weren't really hitting anything in the fourth quarter either.
It wasn't a great game by the Nets, though Humphries played well in spite of the boos that were greeting him every time he scored or grabbed a board, which got to be a lot of booing. MarShon Brooks played pretty well when he took time off from his constant complaining to score.
The Nets didn't need to play great to win the game though, as the Bulls were just playing awful. They shot a miserable .393 from the field for the game. They turned it over 12 times. They played without energy for most of the first quarter. They showed no fight in the fourth.
It was a pretty clear case of looking past an opponent and expecting the Nets to come in and just cow down to the Bulls. The Nets came out throwing haymakers instead. They were hitting threes like they were dunking in the first quarter. They hit on 10 of their first 12 shots, with four of them from deep.
They played hard from start to finish and they dug in every time the Bulls made a run.
After that the Bulls were down 19 and just never really made it close.
The Bulls might be the better team, but the Nets played better basketball today.
One other thing of note was that the Nets backcourt utterly dominated. Their starters outscored the Bulls starters, 48-15. Clearly, the Bulls need Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton to get well and get playing. This is the fourth consecutive game where they have been dominated by the opposing backcourt.
The Bulls are sorely missing Rose's offense, but his defense is missed. Williams' career average against Rose is just 17.9 points, 14.3 in the Thibodeau era, and he has never scored 29 on Rose.
They next play the Atlanta Hawks, a team that has played them very well this year. The Bulls have not lost back-to-back games this season. They are the only team that can make that claim in the condensed season. If they don't play much better on Monday, they won't be able to make that claim.