CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Brooklyn Nets pulled out a 95-92 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The series is tied 3-3.
How it happened: Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each scored 17 points as the Nets squeaked out the win. Playing without Luol Deng (ill) and Kirk Hinrich (calf injury) proved to be too much for the Bulls to overcome. The Bulls missed far too many solid looks down the stretch and couldn't find a consistent rhythm in the second half. Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds but it wasn't enough for Tom Thibodeau's battered bunch.
What it means: Sometimes heart and hustle just isn't enough. The Bulls gave everything they had to try and close out this series but they didn't have enough difference makers down the stretch to make big plays. Thibodeau has to be extremely proud of his team's effort, especially given the injuries and the illnesses, but the reality is that the Bulls had their chances to win this one and just couldn't close the door. Now they face a Game 7 in which Hinrich and Deng are questionable at best with an offense that continues to lose its way at crucial moments. Nobody should count the Bulls out given their fighting spirit, but talent usually beats toughness, especially when the Bulls’ biggest talents are struggling to even get on the floor.
Hits: Joakim Noah had 14 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in 43 minutes. The minutes limit that was imposed on him during the first part of this series because of plantar fasciitis is obviously long gone.
Misses: Taj Gibson came into this series battling a knee injury and he came into this game battling the flu, but he has not been able to help the Bulls much over the last few weeks. He spent Game 6 in foul trouble and scored just three points in 17 minutes.
Stat of the night: Bench scoring: The Nets outscored the Bulls 27-7.
What's next: Game 7 is Saturday night in Brooklyn.