Nate Robinson's Near-Heroics Not Enough for Chicago Bulls to Survive Game 5

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2013

May 15, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Nate Robinson (2) takes a shot over Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen (34) in the first half in game five of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Robinson gave it a shot (15 shots, to be precise), but the pint-sized dynamo's scoring outburst and gutsy effort weren't enough to save the Chicago Bulls from the 94-91 loss to the Miami Heat that put a period on their impressive season.

Apparently, missing all 12 of his shots in Game 4 also wasn't enough to deter Robinson from maintaining the ultra-aggressive mindset that had marked his play all postseason long.

And after helping engineer a remarkable offensive surge that brought the Chicago Bulls back from the dead in the early stages of Game 5, it's safe to say that his team was grateful for his unfailing confidence and short memory.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, Robinson ultimately came up short.

It didn't happen right away for Robinson and the Bulls, as the diminutive guard made just one of his three attempts in the first quarter. In fact, his only opening-period bucket came with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

But that three-point shot cut the Heat's advantage to nine points, which was a marked improvement from the 18-point lead they'd built at the five-minute mark.

In the second, Robinson collected an and-1 with 9:15 remaining that got the Bulls to within four points. Then he assisted on Chicago's next three baskets, a jumper by Richard Hamilton and a pair of threes from Jimmy Butler.

Of course, Robinson wasn't going to stay out of the scoring column for long, as his three, which came just 35 seconds after Butler's, put the Bulls up by four.

After a couple more free throws and a triple to end the half, Robinson had put his team ahead by six points as they went into halftime.

After two more assists and a pair of foul shots in the third quarter, Robinson had either scored or directly facilitated 28 of Chicago's 77 points.

But Robinson and the Bulls stalled in the fourth quarter as the team managed only 14 points in the final period. Tom Thibodeau's typically short rotation resulted in five players logging all but 28 minutes of available court time. Robinson logged 47, himself.

Fatigue was definitely a factor, but hot and cold spells have characterized Robinson's season and career. He's hung around the league because of his ability to take over games for long stretches at a time, which he proved with 23 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.

But ugly games are just as big a part of Robinson's legacy. For every stunner, there's been a dud to go along with it. For a moment, it seemed as though the Bulls were going to get yet another huge performance from Robinson in Game 5.

They almost did.

Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler were excellent, and Joakim Noah remained the team's emotional leader. But it was Robinson who grabbed ahold of the game in the early going. He just couldn't hang on.

Robinson will hit free agency this summer after a breakout postseason campaign. His overall numbers aren't particularly exciting, but because of his unflappable confidence and feel for the moment, he's almost certain to cash in on the open market.

Thanks to a remarkable bounce-back effort in Game 5, Robinson very nearly helped the Bulls avoid cashing out.