Bulls slow down Durant, then end Nets' win streak

The NBA world couldn't help but notice when Cleveland's Donovan Mitchell became the seventh player to score at least 70 points in a game Monday, incorrect calls or not.

So why wouldn't Brooklyn's Kevin Durant think the time was right to do something special against that same Bulls defense Wednesday at the United Center?

Durant had it rolling for much of the night, but the Bulls managed to stop him at 44 points, while putting an end to the Nets' 12-game win streak with a 121-112 victory.

The Bulls are now 6-1 against the top three teams in the East - Boston, Milwaukee and Brooklyn - but just 17-21 overall.

They used balanced scoring in this game. Patrick Williams hit a season-high and tied DeMar DeRozan for the team lead with 22 points. Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Ayo Dosunmu had a nice all-around game and scored 17 points.

"We know that he (Durant) is a great player, one of the best scorers in history," Dosunmu said. "When he scores, as long as it's contested, we go in and keep our head high and we go on to the next play. There's hasn't been legitimately one team that help him scoreless.

"When he scored 28 (in the first half), we literally came into the locker room and said, 'We're contesting it.' So we just wanted to keep scrambling to try to take away the other guys from getting open shots and keep competing."

On Monday, Mitchell picked up steam as the game went along. After Durant piled up 28 by halftime, the Bulls actually managed to slow him down.

Also in both games, the Bulls opened an 18-point lead in the second quarter. The Nets got as close as 3 points a few times, but never took the lead.

In the third quarter, Donovan started sending double-teams at Durant. It slowed him down for a while, but after Williams committed a 3-shot foul with 1.6 seconds left in the quarter, Durant was able to set his point total at 39. The Bulls also stuck with a small, mobile lineup with Derrick Jones Jr. serving as backup center instead of former Net Andre Drummond.

With 9:40 remaining, Goran Dragic picked up a technical foul after making a layup. Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving hit the technical free throw and added a layup on the next possession to bring the Nets within 98-95.

The Bulls made a smart choice to stop whining and do something about it. They scored 8 points in a row, capped by a nice juke by DeRozan against Durant to clear space for a jumper, followed by a steal and lay in by Dosunmu.

The Bulls have been waiting for Williams to turn a corner for a couple years now, and he certainly made a positive step in this game. He was asked to guard Durant constantly - both were on the floor 38 minutes - and the open shots started falling.

"Being around him, he's just searching to find ways to improve," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of Williams. "I think playing against Kevin tonight and having to have so much of his focus in trying to somehow make it difficult on him and then to be aggressive offensively. We need him to play both ends and he was active on both ends tonight."

Williams blamed himself for allowing Mitchell to rebound his own missed free throw late in Monday's game. Williams made an attempt to box out Mitchell, but he crossed the foul line before the ball hit the rim, which should have been a violation.

"If he took that on himself, that's great, but that's not Pat's fault," Zach LaVine said. "There's a lot of things we could have did better in that Cleveland game. For him to come out and play like this was great."

The latest Bulls injury was a sprained right ankle by Alex Caruso, who left the game after playing three minutes and did not return. Javonte Green sat out for the 10th time in the last 16 games with right knee soreness.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) battles Chicago Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu (12) for a rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday. Associated Press
Bulls' Patrick Williams (44) attempts to dunk while being fouled by Brooklyn Nets' Yuta Watanabe (18) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday. Associated Press
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