We're at halftime of Game 2 between the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls, and suffice it to say, its a closer affair than the first matchup. Saturday night, the Bulls turned the ball over seven times in the first half, leading to 14 Brooklyn points. Tonight, they have turned it over seven times again, but they have forced eight turnovers themselves, and Chicago leads 47-46 at the half. The lead comes mainly due to 20 points off the bench, with Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli coming in and hitting some key shots. It's bench production that wasn't there in Game 1.
1. Joakim Noah
We knew Noah would play 20-25 minutes Monday night - Wait, what? Tom Thibodeau knows what minutes limits are? - but after a sluggish 13-minute effort Saturday, it was tough to tell what type of Joakim we'd be getting.
Suffice it to say, Noah seemed a bit out of sorts. He was 0-for-4 from the field, missing around the hoop and missing some long jumpers. He had a pair of turnovers, one an ill-advised cross-court pass in transition. Twice his point guard dished him the ball on a pick-and-roll, and twice he booted it. Both were bad passes, but, you get the point.
There is good news for Bulls fans: it didn't look like Noah's foot was bothering him, like it wasn't as if he couldn't run or jump - things you might be worried about with his plantar fasciitis. And he had three boards, as well as some hustle plays, like a sure Nets rebound he knocked off of Brook Lopez's leg to retain possession. But he didn't contribute the way one might have hoped. He just seemed a bit off.
Oh, and Chicago actually got honest minutes from Nazr Mohammed in 2013, which, what? He had four points.
2. Deron Williams, in transition and out of it
Mike Prada highlighted how brilliantly Deron Williams played in a convincing Game 1 win for Brooklyn.
That continued here, but not in the way you'd expect, as he finished with eight assists despite not hitting a field goal. In the half court, the Nets were plain and simple: Brook Lopez pick-and-pops over and over again, and it worked, with Lopez finishing with 14 points to lead all scorers. Williams' transition menace was on show on the final play of the half, when he hit C.J. Watson for a three to make the Nets' deficit one point rather than four.
3. Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace was a surprise star in Game 1 with a 14-point effort, recovering from an end of the year run where he barely ever scored and said he'd lost all his confidence. That didn't continue in Game 2 - Brooklyn opted to play smaller with Joe Johnson and either C.J. Watson or Keith Bogans alongside Williams, with Wallace only playing seven minutes. Bogans was ineffective, but Watson had seven points.