Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Down two starters and forced to take the road for a do-and-die game against an opponent with renewed life, the Chicago Bulls appeared to be out of gas.
As it turned out, they had just enough left in the tank.
Sparked by a gutsy 24-point, 14-rebound performance from Joakim Noah, the Bulls overcame the absences of Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a determined 99-93 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay Center.
Noah made good on 12-of-17 field goal attempts while playing 41 minutes on an ailing foot, while Marco Belinelli poured in a critical 24 points of his own while stepping in for Deng, who began the day in a Chicago hospital after experiencing complications from a spinal tap. Hinrich, meanwhile, sat out a third straight game due to an injured left calf.
Their efforts, along with a 17-point outing from Carlos Boozer, enabled Chicago to win a Game 7 on the road for the first time in franchise history and earn a date with defending NBA champion Miami in the second round. The Bulls will visit the Heat for Game 1 on Monday.
Hosting their first-ever Game 7 playoff matchup, the Nets managed to cut a 17- point halftime deficit down to four in the third quarter, but couldn't overcome their early hole and failed to sustain the momentum built from two straight victories in the series that forced the winner-take-all showdown.
Deron Williams scored 24 points and Gerald Wallace had 19 for the fourth- seeded Nets. Brook Lopez added 21 points and nine rebounds, but was held to 9- of-20 shooting in the loss.
Joe Johnson had an even tougher time against Chicago's tight defense, managing just six points on a forgettable 2-of-14 night.