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Brooklyn Nets start late, finish early in 92-76 loss to the Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah (left) came just three assists shy of recording a triple-double in the Chicago Bulls' win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets might have slightly turned their season around when the calendar flipped over into a new year, but they are most certainly not immune to losing to the better teams in the NBA. In fact, more often than not, when the Nets are playing a team with a better record, they will be walking off the court with an addition to their loss column. And wouldn't you know it, the team they squared off against on Thursday, the Chicago Bulls, have been played more consistently quality basketball this season and held an edge over the Nets in winning percentage.

The result of the match-up was a 92-76 defeat for the Nets as they did not get going until the second quarter and then stopped going after the third quarter ended. In those two quarters, the Nets finished with a two-point advantage over the Bulls, outscoring their opponents 42-40.

Unfortunately for the Nets, the NBA has still not seen fit to give teams credit for half-victories and the official game, along with determining who was the victor, took into consideration all four quarters of the contest. Once that was done, the Nets were left in the dust by the more effective Bulls.

After the first quarter, the Nets only scored 19 points, digging themselves a 10-point hole. It was a hole the Nets remained in for the next two and one-half quarters until they made a feeble comeback attempt in the final period of the game. With 6:28 remaining in the game, Andrei Kirilenko of the Nets knocked down a 25-point three pointer to pull the team within three points of the Bulls; it was the closest the Nets had been to the Bulls since midway through the first quarter.

From there, the Nets did their best New York Knicks impression and failed to get the defensive stops necessary to keep the Bulls within range. After Kirilenko's three-pointer, the Bulls went on to score on eight of their next 10 offensive possessions, amassing 17 points as the Nets found it very nearly impossible to keep them from putting the ball in the basket.

As the Nets defense faltered down the stretch, the Bulls defense remained as stingy as ever and held the Nets to just four points after Kirilenko's three-pointer en route to limited the Nets to a mediocre true shooting percentage of 47.9 percent and 88.5 points per 100 possessions.

Even after the loss, the Nets possess the seventh-best record in the putrid Eastern Conference, but unless they can find a way to beat teams with superior records on a consistent basis, their season turnaround will yield them nothing more than a first-round playoff exit.