The Chicago Bulls took a commanding 3-1 series lead in their triple-overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, 142-134, but the Nets certainly did their best to drag this one out.
The Nets came onto the court at the United Center much feistier than they have been in the past two games.
Deron Williams was the difference-maker for the Nets in the first three periods. He was not only able to knock down his jumpers, but also get loose and get to the rim, setting up his teammates over and over again. It was definitely a bounce-back game for him.
Williams put up 32 points and 10 assists in the game, but he only scored two points in the final 20 minutes.
Game 4 was all about Nate Robinson, as he came off the bench to score a game-high 34 points. He scored 23 of his points in the fourth quarter to bring the Bulls back from a 14-point deficit.
This game started out as expected, with both teams digging their defensive trenches and lobbing grenades back and forth in hopes that something would hit. Strangely enough, there was actually contact, as both Chicago and Brooklyn scored efficiently.
As a few of the Nets came out timid, it was all Brook Lopez in the first quarter, scoring 12 points on 10 shots.
The usual bit of Carlos Boozer mid-range jumpers and shouting at rebounds defined the Bulls' first quarter, but they also got a healthy dose of Jimmy Butler in the first quarter, to the tune of 10 points on his first four shots.
Kirk Hinrich owned the second quarter, which is probably something everybody expected, right?
Hinrich's 11 second-quarter points helped the Bulls pull out to an 11-point lead with just over a minute before halftime.
Of course, Brooklyn nonchalantly broke out and scored eight points in the final minute, thanks to an Andray Blatche jumper and three-pointers from Williams and Gerald Wallace.
There was a lot less of the usual slobberknockery in this game, although there was a bit of a skirmish between Nate Robinson and C.J. Watson that amounted to the lamest fight in NBA history.
The Nets came out hot in the third, eventually going on a 10-2 run to take the lead. That run? It was on the backs of Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace, who scored eight of those 10 points. Whom else would you have expected?
Brooklyn took and extended the lead on a flurry of jump shots in the third quarter, the Bulls keeping on pace, just not covering the Nets quite well enough to keep them from going on a run.
The Nets' run gave them an eight-point advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn and Chicago went back and forth for much of the fourth quarter, Evans eventually breaking past his playoff career-high of 13 points with over six minutes to go.
Robinson eventually did get it going, hitting 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, totally counteracting the fact that the Nets shot lights out in the third quarter.
The Nets shot over 60 percent well into the fourth quarter and were seemingly unfazed when three-pointers presented themselves, hitting 60 percent of those as well.
The littlest dude on the floor tried to get the Bulls back into the game, going on an individual 12-0 run to pull the Bulls within two points with a minute to go.
Somebody else finally scored as Robinson drove to the lane and Boozer knocked in a layup to tie the game at 109 with 30 seconds left in the fourth.
Williams' attempt at a game-winner went just off the mark, leading us into our first overtime of the playoffs.
Brooklyn pulled out to another lead in overtime, but Robinson came back and hit the game-tying jumper with just over a minute left.
Wallace barely missed saving an awry rebound, and Chicago took the opportunity and the lead on a Robinson-Noah-Boozer tic-tac-toe layup, which a Joe Johnson floater on the other end negated of course.
Nate finished it up with a ridiculous runner with Williams draped all over him, which Johnson countered with another runner of course.
Double-overtime turned into a muddy back-and-forth of missed shots and offensive rebounds, the Bulls coming through with a jumper from Nate and a huge dunk from Noah to put them ahead by four points with just over a minute remaining.
Free throws and a sixth foul on Robinson led to Brooklyn tying the game up, giving Chicago a chance to win in the final seconds yet again, only to fall short on two attempts by Noah, leading to triple-overtime.
Chicago came out firing in the third overtime, getting buckets from Noah (who then fouled out), Butler and Boozer, leaving Brooklyn to play catch-up the rest of the way.
The lead proved to be too big, especially after the Nazr Mohammed dagger (yea, you read that right) gave Chicago a five-point lead with 30 seconds left.
Brooklyn couldn't hit any more miraculous shots to extend the game, finally falling 142-134.
The game started out slow (surprise!) and ended up devolving into a back-and-forth between Brook Lopez and Jimmy Butler.
"Who else gonna shoot" -Brook Lopez— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 27, 2013
Of course, there was also plenty of rough play between the two, with Joakim Noah and Reggie Evans continuing to stand in the center of it all.
Joakim Noah is tougher than me.— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2013
Surprisingly enough, the first quarter ended with both teams scoring a respectable amount. Even more surprising, that would continue.
Progression to the mean RT @johnschuhmann: 26-25! What series am I watching?— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 27, 2013
A delight to every Nets fan, Gerald Wallace told reporters that he was unsure of his role with the team. Yea, because that's not something you should talk to the head coach about in December, rather than the media in April.
Gerald Wallace Confidence Meter: the wind blowing through an abandoned factory.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 27, 2013
With Brook Lopez taking a seat early in the second, the Nets needed somebody other than Deron Williams to do a bit of scoring. Naturally it was Andray Blatche.
Andray Blatche and-1!! ARE YOU EXCITED?— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2013
Then came the worst fight in the history of NBA fights, as C.J. Watson and Nate Robinson just kind of hugged each other a bit. Even Mike Tyson disapproved.
Williams continued to look like the point guard who showed up for Game 1 of the series, rather than the one that was there for the next two games.
Deron Williams has scored or assisted on 16 of the Nets last 19 points.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 27, 2013
And of course, because basketball makes so much sense sometimes, Kirk Hinrich poured in 11 third-quarter points, including two three-pointers during a 12-2 Bulls run.
Kirk Hinrich is the greatest point guard in playoff history!— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 27, 2013
Then to confuse even more, Gerald Wallace hit a three-pointer before halftime to pull the Nets within three points.
Gerald Wallace's role is clearly to hit three-pointers right before halftime.— Adam Fromal (@fromal09) April 27, 2013
Brooklyn missed just two shots in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, and neither of those came on the consecutive isolation layup attempts by Reggie Evans.
Reggie Evans has scored twice on Carlos Boozer. One more and that's an automatic amnesty for Boozer.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 27, 2013
Between Deron Williams showing up, Captain Kirk having a game and an almost-fight, this game was shaping up for a stellar finish.
This has been a tremendous game. Who would have thought?— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 27, 2013
The third quarter ended pretty normally.
Brook Lopez is knocking down threes. This Nets/Bulls series is the polar opposite of predictable.— ESPN (@espn) April 27, 2013
Midway through the fourth Nate Robinson went on a run in which he horribly missed a three-pointer, got knocked flat by a screen from Gerald Wallace and fouled Watson on a fast break for an and-1.
Nate Robinson is having a bad day.— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2013
Robinson would turn that around almost immediately, as the Nets would miss countless free throws while Robinson single-handedly (at least on offense) cut the lead down to four points.
Did the Nets make a point spread bet or something?— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) April 27, 2013
Robinson's assist to Boozer tied the game with under a minute left. Sometimes basketball just happens.
Tom Thibodeau really drew up this "Let Nate Robinson explode" gameplan to perfection.— devin kharpertian (@uuords) April 27, 2013
Nate-Rob put in a potential game-winner at the end of the first overtime period.
THE LEPRECHAUN HAS FOUND HIS POT OF GOLD— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) April 27, 2013
But Joe Johnson had other thoughts.
OH ME OH MY!! Joe Johnson sends us to Double OT! The only thing better than Overtime in the #NBAPlayoffs is Double Overtime.— NBA (@NBA) April 27, 2013
Robinson would foul out in the second overtime on a dubious offensive foul call with just over a minute remaining.
Nate Robinson called for an offensive foul, his sixth, he fouls out with 34pts. #NETSvBULLS— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 27, 2013
This game went on for so long that Marv Albert even left the play-by-play duties to Steve Kerr for a few minutes. I'm guessing he needed a potty break.
Guess Marv Albert fouled out too.— Royce Young (@dailythunder) April 27, 2013
Nazr Mohammed came into the game and put the Bulls up by five with his 35-year-old fresh legs.
As always, when Nate Robinson fouls out in tripple OT you turn to Nazr.— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) April 27, 2013
Mohammed grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw from Boozer to clinch it for the Bulls. How else could this game have ended?
NAZR MOHAMMED SHUT IT DOWN LET'S GO HOMEEE— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 27, 2013
Whichever team lost this game would have been completely devastated, and it's even worse for the Nets.
Brooklyn was looking at a 14-point lead with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, and Tom Thibodeau was resorting to hacking Reggie Evans to stop the clock.
Now the Nets have to go back to Brooklyn down three games to one after a triple-overtime implosion of a loss on the road. It's hard to imagine them coming back from this one.