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Nets routed again, drop half-game out of final playoff spot

From left, Deron Williams #8, Mason Plumlee #1,

From left, Deron Williams #8, Mason Plumlee #1, Thaddeus Young #30 and Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets look on from the bench during the fourth quarter of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the Barclays Center on April 13, 2015. Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

It's only fitting that in this wacky season for the Nets, in which they've floundered at home, they probably will need to win their final game there to have a shot at claiming the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

That's what it's come to.

The comfort of knowing they controlled their own destiny evaporated Monday night in a numbing 113-86 loss to the undermanned Bulls at Barclays Center, capping a frustrating back-to-back in which they fell flat on their faces in must-win games. On Sunday, they were blown out by the Bucks, led by former Nets coach Jason Kidd.

The Nets dropped a half-game behind the Pacers for eighth, meaning they will be scoreboard watching Tuesday night when the Pacers host the Wizards.

"I know we are going to get written off tomorrow in the paper,'' coach Lionel Hollins said.

The Nets (37-44) hold the tiebreaker over Indiana, so if they finish with the same record, the Nets will be in the playoffs for the third straight season. But given the Nets' erratic nature, there's certainly no guarantee they will be able to defeat the lowly Magic in Wednesday's regular-season finale.

The Nets are only 18-22 at their billion-dollar arena in Hollins' first season. They flopped again there even though the Bulls were missing their heart and soul, Joakim Noah, who sat out with hamstring tendinitis.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 17 points off the bench. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez shot a combined 16-for-44 from the floor.

Nikola Mirotic had 26 points for the Bulls (49-32), and Pau Gasol carved up the Nets for 22 points and 11 rebounds.

In their biggest game of the season so far, the Nets came up microscopically small. They just didn't seem to have the same kind of burning desire that was flowing through the Bulls.

When Lopez checked out with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter and the Nets in a 73-61 hole, things still felt within reach. Momentarily, anyway. Chicago wiped the Nets away with a 14-4 run highlighted by three straight Mirotic three-pointers, dropping the Nets into an 87-65 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

A common sight on this night: Lopez hurrying toward someone wide open on the perimeter or underneath the basket, only to consistently be late in getting there. The Nets' defensive rotations were a step behind all night, leading to a flurry of easy looks for Chicago.

Brooklyn also was beaten way too many times in transition, allowing three-quarter court passes that led to dunks and layups. The Bulls amassed 14 fast-break points compared with the Nets' two, a sign of just how much Chicago exerted its will on the Nets on another maddening night.

Notes & quotes: Alan Anderson (sprained left ankle) missed his sixth straight game, but was on the floor moving well beforehand, going through a workout with assistant coach Jay Humphries.


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