Nets shoot Bulls out of the arena

NEW YORK — DeMar DeRozan glanced up at the scoreboard after Coby White’s foul.

The Bulls were down by 11 with 1:51 left.

Another one slipping away, another night wasted.

After their 125-108 loss to a 29-win Nets team that had its Cancun vacation planned weeks ago, the ninth-seeded Bulls are only a half-game up on the idle Hawks.

“We got eight left? We got eight left,” DeRozan said, answering his own question. “Can’t depend on anyone else to win or lose. Got to let this one feel how it’s supposed to feel, use that as motivation and respond the right way.

“This game is over and done with, but you can use that frustration, use it as motivation to just get back to playing basketball. Move on from there.”

And therein lies the frustration with this team. The Bulls can lose to the Wizards, feel like a dead squad walking, then get up for the playoff-bound Pacers and blow them out of the gym.

Then Friday hit and hit hard. The Nets shot 25-for-44 (56.8%) from three-point range, including 9-for-11 in the fourth quarter. A lack of closing out on defense? Not at all. In fact, the Bulls actually forced the Nets into some tightly contested threes. The problem was because the Bulls had some rotation breakdowns on the three-pointer in the first half and third quarter, the Nets’ shooters got comfortable.

That’s all they needed.

“Whether it was rotations or close-outs, just a little bit late, not what they needed to be, and sometimes you allow a team to make a few shots and then the basket becomes a lot bigger,” coach Billy Donovan said. “They shot an incredible percentage in the second half [75%]. Some of them were highly contested, but you also have to look at the early part of the third quarter when they started making a few, and they found a rhythm. Generally, when that happens, guys at this level, it doesn’t make a difference.”

That’s how a two-point game with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth turned into a blowout.

After a layup by Dalen Terry, three of the next four shots the Nets took were from 26 feet and out, and all of them connected. By the time Dennis Schroder hit a bomb with 6:48 left, a two-point game was up to six and counting.

Another Schroder three, followed by Mikal Bridges getting into the act, and the lead was 10.

There was no putting the toothpaste back in the tube at that point.

“They made shots; they made contested ones; they made ones off the dribble,” White said of the onslaught. “Hats off to them. It’s hard to beat a team if they’re making 25 threes. I don’t know the math on that. What is that, 75 [points]? Some were due to us having lapses, but they hit some tough ones. They got hot.”

It’s not the first time the Nets have given the Bulls (35-39) problems this season. They swept the season series, winning three games.

It’s up to the Bulls to shake this latest one off, keep grinding and do everything they can to stay in front of the surging Hawks.

“There’s always a response,” DeRozan said. “But we’re getting down to the point where it’s going to be one-and-done. We gotta treat these games like that.”

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