The Jacque Vaughn era began with a win.
The Nets interim coach may not want to watch it back too often, though.
Less than 48 hours removed from Kenny Atkinson getting fired after four seasons at the helm, the Nets had a game to play with Vaughn manning the sideline.
It was hardly a Picasso, but the Nets escaped with a 110-107 win over the lowly Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center.
The Nets led by 10 points with less than three minutes left, but the Bulls pulled within 105-102 with 34.2 seconds to go. Taurean Prince found an answer and snapped his 0-for-6 shooting day from the field with a layup to make it 107-102.
After a timeout, Lauri Markkanen wasted no time dunking to make it 107-104 with 15.3 seconds left, and then the Bulls forced another turnover to get the ball with 12.9 seconds left. They had a chance to tie it, but Coby White’s 3 went in and out.
Spencer Dinwiddie then made one of two free throws with 3.6 seconds left, just enough to avoid disaster when Otto Porter nailed a fadeaway 3 that made it 108-107 with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Dinwiddie followed up by sinking two more free throws to end it.
The Nets (29-34) won for the third time in four games after four straight losses as they hang onto seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. They pulled out the win despite committing a season-high 29 turnovers — off of which the Bulls (21-43) scored 24 points — against a team that entered the game having lost 12 of 14.
“Quick turnaround,” Vaughn said before the game. “I think that’s the one thing that, at the end of the day, when you strip everything down, guys are competitors. They enjoy playing the game of basketball. At three o’clock today, they get that opportunity. I think they dive in and accept the challenge and play for each other.”
Three of Atkinson’s best player-development stories — Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Caris LeVert — combined for 70 points to lead the way.
The Nets came out sloppy from the start and had nine turnovers in the first quarter, allowing the Bulls to take a 23-22 lead after one.
The Bulls grew their lead to as many as five points early in the second quarter before the Nets used a 22-6 run to take their biggest lead of the half, 58-47. They went into the break up 58-50.
After going scoreless in the first half, Wilson Chandler hit back-to-back 3s early in the third quarter to push the Nets’ lead to 68-56. But a messy end to the quarter finished with the Nets’ lead down to 77-70.
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