No one thought the Chicago Bulls can play this kind of offense, but with Nate Robinson doing his best Michael Jordan impersonation, double digit fourth quarter comebacks aren’t that much of an obscene word, and neither is advancing in the postseason to the conference semifinals, now only one win away thanks to some impressive heroics and shooting in a triple overtime game.
Game 4 was something different. After the point total decreased from games 1 to 3, the Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets could hardly miss in a 142-134, triple overtime game. The Nets held a 14 point lead deep in the fourth quarter, but that was when it all went wrong for them.
C.J. Watson had a chance to make it 16, but missed a dunk. Up to that point the Nets were shooting 60.6% from the field, but from their 109-95 confident lead they crumbled into ashes, with Joe Johnson being the only player keeping them in the game against the charging Bulls. The Nets shot 25.8% from the field the rest of the way.
There will be many heroes for the Bulls once they finish the job and make an unlikely advancement into the second round. Kirk Hinrich played 60 minutes of basketball, finishing with 18 points and 14 assists on 7-12 shooting. He isn’t the most exciting player in the NBA and had a hard time handling Deron Williams (32 points in 58 minutes), but he is the only point guard the Bulls have they can count on to make sensible decisions.
For the crazy decisions, they have Nate Robinson, finishing with 34 points, 23 of them coming in the fourth quarter with a series of jump shots off pick n rolls, shooting 7-of-10 and scoring 18 of his 27 points (overtime and 4th) as the ball handler on such plays. Robinson is impossible to predict, but is equally difficult to stop. Once Gerald Wallace blocked him viciously in the fourth, it seemed to wake up something deep within him, the Nets regretted watching come to life.
On the other side of the ball, Deron Williams did everything right through the first three quarters (24 points, 9-14 from the field) but completely collapsed in the fourth and overtime, adding 8 more points but making only 2 of 11 field goal attempts, including 1-5 from beyond the arc.
It’s hard to praise defense in such a game, but the Bulls got their defense going in the right time, except for stopping Joe Johnson with a few huge shots in overtime to keep the Nets in the game. Joakim Noah fouled out, but before that gave 39 minutes with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but more importantly making life very hard for Brook Lopez when he was guarding him. Lopez was 7-8 from the field when Noah wasn’t close to him, but only 2-12 with the Bulls’ starting center guarding him.
Robinson’s 34 points were the most ever in a playoff game by a Bulls reserve, and his 23 in the fourth were one shy of the club postseason record for any quarter. Michael Jordan scored 24 in the fourth at Philadelphia in Game 3 of the conference semifinals in 1990. The Bulls still set a franchise playoff records for points and made field goals.