Thursday, November 30, 2023
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NBA Preview: Brooklyn Nets (2-2) at Chicago Bulls (2-3)

Through their early games, the Brooklyn Nets boast a top-10 offense in terms of scoring and field goal percentage, while the Chicago Bulls are towards the bottom of the NBA in those categories.

How those teams perform in both areas could determine whether they get a trip to Las Vegas next month, since Brooklyn’s visit to Chicago on Friday is their first of four group-stage games in the NBA’s new in-season tournament.

The Nets and Bulls are part of East Group C and will face the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic in group play. The winners of the six groups and two wild cards advance to the knockout round stage Dec. 4-5 where teams compete for a prize pool. The game will also count in the regular-season standings.

The Nets are seeking their third straight win after a pair of close losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks when they could not make plays on both ends down the stretch.

The Nets head into their first tournament game averaging 118.8 points, a figure that ranks eighth through Wednesday. Brooklyn is shooting 50.1 percent, which is fourth in the league, and ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage at 41.7 percent.

Brooklyn followed up a 133-121 win in Charlotte on Monday by overcoming a 16-point deficit for a 109-105 win at Miami on Wednesday. The Nets produced their best fourth quarter by outscoring Miami 34-22 and shooting 57.9 percent in the final 12 minutes.

Brooklyn also got its second win thanks to some unlikely help. While Mikal Bridges scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth, reserves Armoni Brooks and Lonnie Walker IV added 17 apiece.

Brooks joined the team after practicing Tuesday with the Long Island Nets of the G League and played 16 minutes as the Nets played without Spencer Dinwiddie because of a sprained left ankle and Dennis Smith Jr. due to a bruised left hip. Both players are questionable for Friday’s game.

Nic Claxton (sprained left ankle) and Cameron Johnson (strained left calf) will again be out Friday.

Chicago will play eight of its next 10 at home after dropping two of three in its first road trip.

After a 16-point loss at Detroit and a seven-point win at Indiana, the Bulls faded down the stretch in Wednesday’s 114-105 loss at Dallas. Chicago was outscored 33-22 in the fourth quarter when it missed 12 of 21 shots and gave up a 20-9 run over the final six minutes.

The Bulls shot a season-best 47.2 percent but have shot under 45 percent three times so far. Overall they are 25th in scoring at 105.4 points, 28th in field goal percentage at 42.6 and tied for 28th in 3-point shooting at 30.2 percent. Zach LaVine scored 22 points Wednesday but was 1-of-7 in the second half and is shooting 40.2 percent this season. Nikola Vucevic added 21 and DeMar DeRozan finished with 16 on 5-of-13 shooting, making him 11 of 32 in the past two games.

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