National Basketball Association
Brooklyn 107, Chicago 106
When: 5:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 8, 2017
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
#74 Curtis Blair, #19 James Capers, #61 Courtney Kirkland
NEW YORK -- Jimmy Butler hit his shots and did his usual thing on offense, but in a game the Chicago Bulls absolutely needed, their defensive inconsistencies appeared at the most inopportune time.
Butler produced another big game with 33 points, but the Bulls were done in by a poor first half and an even worse final 4 1/2 minutes, resulting in a 107-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
"Jimmy played amazing down the stretch," said Chicago guard Dwyane Wade, who returned from missing 11 games with a fractured right elbow and scored 14 points. "He hit a lot of big shots for us. We just needed some stops."
Despite Butler going 12 of 22 from the floor and scoring 20 points after halftime, Chicago played the first half in a slumber and did not get its first lead until midway through the third quarter. The Bulls were seemingly a few good possessions on both ends from securing their eighth win in 12 games when Nikola Mirotic's 3-point play on a fast break put them in front 97-88 with 4:24 remaining.
Chicago did not score again for another 2:02 when Butler hit an 18-foot pull-up jumper for a 99-98 lead. In between Chicago baskets, Nets' rookie Caris LeVert hit consecutive 3-pointers, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson converted two layups to force the Bulls into making plays down the stretch.
Instead they failed and never led again after Butler hit two free throws with 1:36 left. On the next possession, Spencer Dinwiddie buried an uncontested 3-pointer with 83 seconds left for a 101-101 tie and answered Butler's step-back by hitting the tiebreaking free throws with 13.6 seconds remaining.
"I think every player wants to make those type of plays and be able to seal the deal," Dinwiddie said.
Dinwiddie, who matched a season high with 19 points, added two more free throws with 2.4 seconds left after Butler missed a 21-foot jumper. Those free throws rendered Butler's 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left meaningless.
"We're right there," Butler said. "But we got to figure out a way to pull these games out in the end, get stops and score some baskets in the end. We should be OK."
The collapse left Chicago's playoff situation even murkier.
The Bulls (39-41) are one game behind Indiana, which beat Orlando. Chicago and Miami are tied for eighth after the Heat lost to Washington, although it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Miami.
"We just have to focus on every possession," Chicago center Robin Lopez said after the Bulls were 8 of 25 in the fourth quarter. "There were some possessions we took off tonight, especially at the end there. That's something that can't happen."
Dinwiddie's clutch plays helped the Nets improve to 11-11 since March 1 when they stopped a 16-game losing streak with a nine-point win in Sacramento.
Dinwiddie, LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson combined for 26 of Brooklyn's points in the fourth quarter.
"The way they're still performing, I love everything about it," Nets guard Jeremy Lin said of the young players making plays down the stretch.
Hollis-Jefferson added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, who held a 15-point lead eight a half minutes into the game. Brook Lopez, who needed 35 points to pass Buck Williams on the Nets' all-time scoring list, finished with 13 while Lin added 12.
Besides Butler and Wade, Lopez chipped in 16 and Jerian Grant added 15. Those totals still were not enough because of the first half and late-game collapse.
"The mentality is we got two must-win games," Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We got to go out with great focus, with great energy."
NOTES: Chicago PG Rajon Rondo (right wrist sprain) missed his second straight game. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Rondo is feeling slightly better but there is still a lot of stiffness. Rondo will get treatment Sunday but Hoiberg is not sure if he can return Monday against Orlando. ... Asked if PG Jeremy Lin met expectations this season when he missed significant time with two left hamstring injuries, coach Kenny Atkinson said: "It's what do they call it in school, a partial grade where you only come to 20 percent of the classes." ... Saturday was the 16th meeting between twin brothers Brook and Robin Lopez. While Brook has only been on the Nets, Robin has faced his brother with five teams (Chicago, New York, Portland, Phoenix and New Orleans).
Top Game Performances
Jimmy Butler 33
Spencer Dinwiddie 19
Jerian Grant 5
Jeremy Lin 7
Robin Lopez 8
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 12
Jimmy Butler 4
||Free Throws Made
Spencer Dinwiddie 6
Michael Carter-Williams 2
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 3
Nikola Mirotic 2
KJ McDaniels 2
Team Stats Summary
Brooklyn will play their next game on the road against Boston. The Nets have a W/L % of .158 after a win and .279 after a loss.
Chicago will play their next game at home against Orlando. The Bulls have a W/L % of .462 after a win and .512 after a loss.