While it might never top Michael Jordan’s 63 points at the Boston Garden in 1986 or his shots over Craig Ehlo or Byron Russell, Robinson put on a show in the Chicago Bulls’ 142-134 triple-overtime win over the Brooklyn Nets that would make His Airness proud.
Over the fourth quarter and two overtime periods in which he played, Robinson scored 29 points off the bench—nearly three times the amount of anyone else on the Bulls roster.
With Chicago down 84-76 heading into the fourth quarter, Robinson’s shot-making bonanza began. Taking over an offense that had stagnated in the third quarter, Robinson put on his KryptoNate costume in the contest’s final 12 minutes.
Coming out of nowhere, Robinson started scorching the United Center nets. He knocked down 9 of 11 shots, including two from down deep, as the Bulls mounted a captivating comeback in the waning moments.
Chicago forced overtime thanks to Robinson’s 23 fourth-quarter points, a mark that came within one of M.J.’s all-time franchise record.
As one would expect, Twitter was abuzz as Robinson sizzled his way through the final 12 minutes of regulation. Here is a look at some of the best reactions from around the Web:
Nate Robinson has gone COMPLETELY BERSERK. This is unbelievable, but impressive. As Steve Kerr would say....a REMARKABLE performance. #WOW!!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) April 27, 2013
Nate Robinson playing the role of Hulk Hogan trying to get the crowd fired up, asking for more noise.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 27, 2013
If this game goes 27 more overtimes, Nate Robinson might start to get tired. #Bulls— InsideHoops.com (@InsideHoops) April 27, 2013
What was so enthralling about the performance was the way Robinson went about scoring. Knocking down shots from all over the court, Robinson was seemingly unguardable. He knocked down looks from beyond the arc, in the mid-range areas and at the rim with equal ease.
Robinson’s ascent did not stop with the end of regulation. As the Nets began floating more defensive help his way, Robinson began using his dribble-drive skills as a catalyst for the offense, setting up Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the process.
But when the Bulls needed a hero, they again called on Nate. With one of the craziest last-second looks you’ll ever see, Robinson answered the call, putting Chicago up 121-119 and seemingly winning the game.
As he had all afternoon, though, Joe Johnson played the spoils, drilling a cold-blooded tying basket to send the game to double-overtime.
Robinson would foul out late in the second extra period, leaving the Bulls to finish what he had started. But his place in history was cemented, a brilliant game completed that more than made up for his actions earlier in the game.
Prior to the fourth quarter and overtime, Robinson's most notable actions were something that might catch the ire of the NBA league office. Guarding Brooklyn guard C.J. Watson tight midway through the second quarter, Robinson was called for a rather aggressive reach-in foul next to the scorer’s table.
Robinson and Watson came entangled and a fight broke out—well, if you can call what happened a fight. The Bulls point guard essentially pinned Watson to the scorer’s table and the two were separated by an army of players from both sides.
Though some questioned whether one or both men would be thrown out, they stayed in the game, much to the eventual delight of the United Center fans.
In all, Robinson’s performance on Saturday was a perfect representation of his entire career. An unnecessary act (fighting), coupled with the type of heroics you only see from the great players.
Robinson has always been a player who has fed off crowds, rising to the occasion as onlookers cast him upward to heights of rarely seen greatness—the superstar effect.
Robinson has never been a player who can keep this up for long stretches, and the way he carved up Brooklyn is unsustainable for Game 4.
But for one day, one 20-plus minute stretch of basketball, for one insanely brilliant shot, there was no better player in the world than Nate Robinson.