Zach LaVine produced a fourth-quarter scoring blitz as the Chicago Bulls piled on the misery for the crisis-hit Brooklyn Nets with a 108-99 win on Tuesday.
A tumultuous day that began with Brooklyn’s sacking of head coach Steve Nash ended with the Nets blowing a 12-point third-quarter lead as Chicago surged to victory at the Barclays Center.
Interim coach Jacque Vaughn took over on the sidelines for the Nets, but could only watch in dismay as Brooklyn wilted in the fourth quarter once again.
Chicago outscored the Nets 31-19 in the fourth quarter, with LaVine raining down 20 points in the final frame to finish with 29 points, including five assists and four rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan provided offensive support with 20 points while Goran Dragic added 15 and Patrick Williams 12. Ayo Dosunmu added 17 points from the bench.
The Nets meanwhile saw Kevin Durant tally 32 points with nine rebounds and six assists while Royce O’Neale chipped in with 20 points. Yuta Watanabe and Nic Claxton added 10 points apiece.
Kyrie Irving had a frustrating night for Brooklyn, finishing with four points after shooting just 2-of-12 from the field.
Durant admitted afterward that Nash’s abrupt dismissal earlier Tuesday had been on his mind in the hours before the game, revealing that he had first learned of it on television.
“I woke up from my nap and turned to my right and saw it on ESPN,” Durant said. “I was shocked. You’re always shocked when a move like this happens, but it’s normal in the NBA.
“So you just get ready for the game. It’s a quick turnaround in the league so you can’t think too much about it — but it was on my mind for a little bit today.”
‘I liked Steve’
Durant — who requested a trade from Brooklyn in the offseason before later issuing an ultimatum to replace Nash or let him go — insisted he had a good relationship with the dismissed coach.
“I liked working with Steve, I liked the coaching staff,” Durant said.
“It was a roller coaster last few years but the core of it – the basketball — is something we all loved to do. I enjoyed coming to work with Steve.
“We didn’t have a healthy team, and we didn’t play well. That’s what happens in the league. It doesn’t take away from Steve’s basketball IQ, or how he teaches the game. It just didn’t work out.”
Brooklyn fell to 2-6 with the defeat and are languishing near the foot of the Eastern Conference while Chicago improved to 4-4, snapping a two-game losing streak.
In other games on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors slumped to a third straight loss with a 116-109 defeat to the Miami Heat in Florida.
A back-and-forth game saw nine lead changes before Miami finally pulled clear in the closing stages of the fourth quarter to claim a win that leaves the NBA champion Warriors at 3-5 for the season.
Max Strus led the Miami scoring with 24 points while Jimmy Butler added 23 with six rebounds and eight assists.
Stephen Curry had a triple double for the Warriors, with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists but it was not enough to drag Golden State over the line.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr took positives from his team’s performance despite the loss.
“I thought we played well enough to win but we didn’t close it out,” Kerr said. “I give Miami credit, they stifled us in the last five minutes. We knew they were going to be competitive, and we got their best punch in that fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t close the deal.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns notched their fifth straight victory with a 116-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Arizona, thanks to 29 points from Cameron Johnson.
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