National Basketball Association
Chicago 112, Brooklyn 73
When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
#39 Tyler Ford, #42 Eric Lewis, #43 Dan Crawford
CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade had his eye on the postseason from the moment he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
It took all 82 games of the regular season, but Wade and his hometown team finally got their wish.
"As a player, 14 years, I think I've been in 12 playoffs," Wade said. "This is what I play for. This is what I enjoy. You always want to play your best when the lights are the brightest."
Facing a possible win-or-go-home situation, the Bulls extended their season with a resounding 112-73 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
The win secured the first playoff appearance for coach Fred Hoiberg, who left his job at Iowa State two years ago to test his skills in the NBA.
Chicago (41-41) earned the No. 8 playoff seed and will meet the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The first game of the series is scheduled for Sunday evening in Boston.
"We all did our job to get us into the playoffs," said Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 25 points against the Nets. "Now it's about winning some games. We've just got to stick together and focus on ourselves."
The strategy worked well against the lowly Nets, who benched a half-dozen players in their final game. Brooklyn (20-62) finished with the worst record in the NBA and the fourth-most losses in franchise history.
Guard Archie Goodwin provided a rare bright spot with a team-high 20 points for the Nets.
"It was just another opportunity to get better next year," said Goodwin, a fourth-year veteran from Kentucky. "Especially going into the summer, we need to work really hard and get better."
The Bulls closed the regular season with seven wins in their last nine games. They followed a 47-point win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night with a 39-point drubbing of the Nets, which made them the first club since the New York Knicks in 1994 to win back-to-back games by at least 39 points.
The strong finish salvaged a wild regular season for the Bulls, who traded Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Oklahoma City Thunder in February and wallowed below .500 only a few weeks ago.
"I just told the guys how proud I am of them," Hoiberg said. "Our backs were against the wall.
"It's a great job of being resilient by our players, of hanging in there and finding a way to battle all the way to the last day. We played two solid games to end the season and get ourselves into the postseason. Now the fun begins."
Rookie Paul Zipser scored a career-high 21 points off the bench for the Bulls. Bobby Portis added 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.
Chicago shot 43.2 percent from the field (41 of 95) and 46.7 percent from 3-point range (14 of 30). The Bulls finished the regular season with a 25-16 record at home, compared with a 16-25 record on the road.
Brooklyn shot 32.6 percent from the field (28 of 86) and made only 3 of 33 attempts from beyond the arc (9.1 percent) in a game that got out of hand early. The Nets were outrebounded 62-48.
Despite the final loss, the Nets finished the season with four wins in their last seven games.
"For a long time, we were stuck on nine wins," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "But I started to see improvements. The young guys helped throughout the times we had injuries. It was an opportunity for these guys, and they took advantage of it."
Meanwhile, Wade said he and his teammates needed to carry their positive feelings from Wednesday's win into the postseason. His former team, Miami, was squeezed out of the playoffs.
"I'm proud of these guys through everything -- wins, losses, injuries, trades," Wade said. "It's about finding a way, and we were able to accomplish that in our first year together."
NOTES: Six players sat out for Brooklyn, including C Brook Lopez (rest), G Jeremy Lin (rest), F Trevor Booker (rest), F/C Quincy Ankle (ankle), G Joe Harris (shoulder) and G Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring). Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson defended the team's decision to rest starters on the eve of a long offseason. "It's a decision we took as a franchise and organization," Atkinson said. "We're looking out for what's best for the Nets. We want to go into this offseason healthy." ... Bulls G Rajon Rondo returned to the starting lineup after missing three games because of a sprained right wrist. Rondo scored 10 points. ... Brooklyn matched a season low with 13 points in the first quarter. ... At 41-41, Chicago secured its ninth consecutive season without a losing record.
Top Game Performances
Archie Goodwin 20
Jimmy Butler 25
Archie Goodwin 4
Rajon Rondo 5
Justin Hamilton 9
Bobby Portis 10
Archie Goodwin 6
||Free Throws Made
Jimmy Butler 8
Randy Foye 2
Jimmy Butler 4
Archie Goodwin 1
Jimmy Butler 2
Team Stats Summary
Chicago will play their next game on the road against Boston. The Bulls have a W/L % of .475 after a win and .524 after a loss.