Bulls' D changed game in first quarter

Joakim Noah didn't score much, but his defense helped set the tone in the first half. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- Down 17-5 midway through the first quarter the Chicago Bulls knew something had to change. This wasn't how they wanted to begin their first home playoff game, and considering what the Brooklyn Nets did to them in the first half of Game No. 1, the Bulls knew something had to change fast.

"It's been the story of our team the whole year," Joakim Noah said after the Bulls' 79-76 victory giving them a 2-1 series lead. "Everybody has to come in and step up."

That's exactly what happened -- after a little tongue lashing from coach Tom Thibodeau.

"There's Thibs laying into us after we started off slow," Taj Gibson said.

The Bulls picked up their defensive intensity and it paid off on the scoreboard. The Nets didn't score another point in the first quarter after scoring 17 in the opening 5:35. They were scoreless for 6:25, that's over half a quarter.

And that's when the game changed.

"We were low energy on both ends to start the game," Kirk Hinrich said. "They jumped on us but collectively we re-grouped."

Hinrich did a lot of it on his own. Early on Deron Williams looked like the dominant guard from Game 1, but when Hinrich turned up the heat, he wilted. Williams had eight points during the opening run by the Nets. He scored 10 the rest of the game.

"Kirk is doing a hell of a job on him," Nate Robinson noted. "And together as a whole we do a great job of helping each other out but it started with Kirk on Deron. Great job."

The Nets felt the change too. It wasn't gradual. The Bulls simply came alive halfway through the opening quarter.

"They picked the intensity up," former Bull CJ Watson said. "We got a good little lead but they came back and didn't look back after that."

The run lasted into the second quarter. The Bulls outscored the Nets 16-0 until Andray Blatche made a layup with 10:49 left in the half.

"We were upset the way we started the game and we were able to turn it around," Hinrich said. "We found our niche, started a little slow but it's not how you start it's how you finish."

With a little help from the coach after a slow start. That's what Thibodeau can do: wake up his team when it's needed.

"He had enough," Robinson said. "We had to do something."