CHICAGO (AP) — Pounded all season, the New Jersey Nets finally got an easy win of their own. And they did it against one of the league’s best teams.
Deron Williams scored 29 points, Kris Humphries had 24 points and 18 rebounds, and New Jersey beat the Chicago Bulls 97-85 Saturday to snap an eight-game losing streak.
Chicago’s Derrick Rose missed his fifth straight game because of back pain, and the Nets took advantage, jumping out to a 22-3 lead while rolling to their first victory since Feb. 1.
“I’m just happy the streak is over,” Williams said. “It’s not fun losing. It’s a great win for us. This is a good team despite the guys they have out.”
The dominant win wasn’t the only good news for New Jersey. Coach Avery Johnson said center Brook Lopez will start Sunday against Milwaukee after being sidelined all season by a broken right foot, a big boost for a team that began the day last in the Atlantic Division.
Lopez was injured in the preseason and the Nets have floundered all year, but they took control right from the start in a surprisingly easy victory over Chicago.
With Rose sidelined, Williams had his way. He scored 21 points in the first half and hit five 3-pointers in the game. He also had eight assists.
Humphries narrowly missed season-highs for points (25) and rebounds (19), while MarShon Brooks added 19 points.
“It’s been a long time where I’ve seen us perform like that on both ends of the floor early in the game,” Johnson said. “We were contesting shots. Getting after it.”
The Bulls had won seven of eight, but the way they were rushing shots and slacking off on defense, they never had a chance. For once, they looked like a team that was missing its star.
Rose remained day to day and the Bulls simply seemed lost.
“Deron Williams came out and set the tone for them,” Thibodeau said. “We were back on our heels. You get what you deserve in this league.”
And the Bulls didn’t deserve much, the way they played.
They shot just over 39 percent, hitting 3 of 13 3-pointers. Things were no better at the foul line, with the Bulls going 16 of 27, and there were simply too many letdowns on defense.
“We had a bad day,” Luol Deng said. “We’ve got no excuses. We played terrible, but it’s over with.”
Carlos Boozer and journeyman Mike James each scored 16 points, with Deng and Taj Gibson adding 14 apiece. Joakim Noah, who had been playing well, was a non-factor, going scoreless and grabbing six rebounds, and Chicago never recovered after a brutal start.
“Everyone says the NBA, it’s the last five minutes,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “No, it’s not.”
This one certainly wasn’t.
Williams hit three 3s as the Nets jumped out to their big lead early and ended the half with a flurry to make it 59-45.
Deng had just hit a 3 to pull Chicago within seven when Williams answered with two free throws, a 3-pointer and two more foul shots to go up 14. The Nets added to their lead early in the third, Humphries’ rebound-dunk midway through the quarter boosting New Jersey’s lead to 67-48, and the Bulls never mounted a serious run.
They would score a few baskets and turn it over, or they’d miss a shot and the Nets would make one. Either way, that big rally never came. It was just a stunning performance by a team that’s 25-8 halfway through the season.
For the Nets, this was simply a big relief.
“We gave the Bulls a dose of what teams have given us all year,” Johnson said.
NOTES: Johnson said Lopez went through an “extensive” workout Friday and responded well. The plan is for Lopez to sit out Monday’s game against New York and play Wednesday against Orlando. … The Bulls are 7-3 without Rose. He has been limited by toe and back problems at times. … C.J. Watson came up clutching his head after running into a rotating Kris Humphries late in the third quarter and left the game. Watson, who said he was elbowed, had “a little headache, migraine.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)