12:00 PM ET, December 25, 2013
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
NEW YORK -- Taj Gibson enjoyed coming home for the holidays.
"It was stressful," said the 28-year-old, who grew up minutes from Barclays Center. "I did a toy drive and I was tired, but it was great to see my family."
Gibson led a balanced offense with six players in double figures for Chicago, which was buoyed by the return of guards Kirk Hinrich and Butler.
With the Bulls trailing 50-49 early in the third quarter, Butler took over, keying a 21-5 run that gave Chicago control. Butler, who sat out the last game with a right ankle injury, started the burst with a 3-pointer and added a three-point play that made it 57-52. That was the first of 12 straight points by the Bulls.
Another three-point play by Butler made it 66-52.
"Coming out of halftime was a focus for us," Hinrich said.
Chicago (11-16) led by 19 at the end of the period after Reggie Evans' dunk with less than a second left ended a 5½-minute field goal drought for the Nets (9-19).
Brooklyn couldn't get much closer in the fourth and was serenaded with a chorus of loud boos from the fans.
"They cheer when things are good and they let you know when things aren't going good," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "They expect good and they expect it 90 percent of the time, but right now we are 90 percent bad and so they have every right to boo and express how they feel."
What once was viewed as a Christmas Day showdown between Eastern Conference contenders became a matchup of two of the NBA's biggest disappointments so far, as both teams have been plagued by injuries.
"I'm surprised at this season, how it's played out altogether," Williams said. "It's like a nightmare the way the injuries have been, the things we talk about every day, the lack of effort, the lack of energy."
The victory was Chicago's second straight, the first time since five consecutive wins from Nov. 8-18 that the Bulls had two in a row. Chicago is starting to get healthy with the return Hinrich and Butler, both of whom started.
Hinrich spurred a 12-0 run midway through the second quarter that gave Chicago a 39-31 lead. Williams then scored seven straight to make it a one-point game. Chicago led 41-38 at the half before Butler took over.
"It's good to get guys back," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Our starters were very solid and our bench guys did a great job. Taj was super."
Brooklyn has its own injury issues with center Brook Lopez lost for the season Friday to a broken right foot.
"We talk about it a lot. We're really trying to figure out what it is. It's tough," Teletovic said of the Nets' struggles. "A lot of NBA teams aren't going to give you anything easy. You really have to concentrate and bring a lot of energy to win the game."
The two clubs were wearing their Christmas short-sleeve jerseys that look straight out of a rec league game. Instead of numbers and a team name on the front, there was a big shiny logo. There are numbers on the sleeves, while the backs look more like a normal NBA jersey.
Both squads were also wearing striped socks to complete the outfit.
The Nets were still missing Andrei Kirilenko, who has been sidelined this season with a back injury. Kidd said before the game that his forward is making progress. ... Kidd's always loved playing on Christmas. "One of the biggest honors as a player and coach is to participate on Christmas," he said. "The world is watching so you can showcase your talent." ... These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season and the Bulls won in seven games. ... Chicago has won eight of the last 10 regular-season meetings.
BROOKLYN, NY - DECEMBER 25: Alan Anderson #6 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket during a game against the...(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Around The Association
MVP: Taj Gibson's 20 points and 8 rebounds powered Chicago through a rough first half and helped lead a blowout in the second. His performance was capped by a huge, one-handed putback dunk with 3:03 in the fourth.
LVP: The Nets' entire bench was atrocious, finishing 4-of-30 from the field (13 percent). Andray Blatche "led" the way shooting 1-of-11, but veterans Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Shaun Livingston couldn't buy a bucket either.
Defining moment: After a Kevin Garnett free throw gave the Nets a 50-49 lead with 6:54 remaining in the third, the Bulls exploded with a 28-8 run over the remainder of the quarter, putting the game out of reach.
Next 5 Games
The Knicks and Nets now have identical 9-19 records this season, and both teams plays games they would like to forget on Christmas Day.[+]
Knicks & Nets Wednesday
FROM ELIAS: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are 6-for-32 from the field in their last 2 games. Since they became teammates in 2007-08, that .188 FG pct is their worst in a 2-game stretch in their career.[+]
Worst Combined FG Pct in 2-game Stretch - Since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett Became Teammates in 2007-08
Just one day ago Nets' Coach Jason Kidd was critical of his team's effort saying, "When we don't make shots, we tend to hang our head and we forget about playing defense..." Luckily for the Bulls on Wednesday, it didn't appear as if the Nets took Kidd's comments to heart. The Nets struggled on the offensive end, shooting 35.2%, and were not much better on defense.[+]
Taj Gibson logged his 4th game of the season with 20 points. Gibson had just 5 career 20-point games in his 1st 4 seasons.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have not helped the Nets' woes as of late. Pierce and Garnett have gone a combined 6-for-32 from the field over the last 2 games. The Nets lost both games by a combined 34 points.[+]
The Nets need to look no further than their 2nd Qtr performance for today's loss. Brooklyn made just 2 buckets in the quarter... the 1st came at the 9:44 mark by Paul Pierce and the other was with 1:44 left - a 3-pointer by Deron Williams. Their 13.3 percent shooting is their worst in the 2nd quarter in the last 10 years.[+]
Nets Worst FG Pct in 2nd Quarter - Last 10 Years
ESPN Stats & Information