Game 4 of Bulls-Nets should’ve been over early in the fourth quarter when the Nets had a 14-point lead with 3:45 to go. It never should’ve required overtime.
Game 4 should’ve been over in the second overtime when Joakim Noah fought through extended minutes and extended plantar fasciitis to jam with two hands. It never should’ve seen Johnson’s three-point play.
Mercifully, Game 4 was over in the third overtime. Unbelievably. Miraculously.
How’s Nate Robinson scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter for unbelievable?
How’s Nazr Mohammed sitting out almost 20 minutes of game time before making two baskets at the end for miraculous?
This was biblical. This was entertaining and frenzied and spectacular. The game tipped shortly after 1 p.m. and ended more than four hours later with the Bulls surviving for a 142-134 affair that gives them a chance to eliminate the Nets on Monday night.
Funny thing is, this was a game the Bulls never should’ve played.
Specifically, this was the style of game the Bulls never should’ve played. The Bulls wanted to make it some sort of shootout, as the 58-55 halftime score would indicate and make Tom Thibodeau cringe.
The Bulls’ victories in Games 2 and 3 were marked by dogged defensive play. They were ugly, and that was a beautiful thing for the Bulls. Game 4 was such a turn that Reggie Evans became an offensive force and the Nets tried to slow down the pace.
But in the second half, the Nets took over, surging to a 14-point lead with less than four minutes remaining. The Bulls looked bad and tired. They were fouling and the Nets were attacking.
Then the Nets stopped. Who knows why? Just never underestimate the Nets’ low basketball IQ.
The turning point came when former Bull C.J. Watson, who engaged in a lightweight scuffle with Robinson earlier, missed a dunk. He could’ve laid it in for a 16-point lead. But he missed, and the Robinson tore up the Nets.
Hollywood would have Robinson hitting the winner in regulation, but this wasn’t that. It took three extra periods of clutch and fight and hustle and heroes.
The Bulls took 109 shots, the Nets 97. That’s 206 combined.
The Bulls made 58 baskets, the Nets 48. That’s 106 combined.
The Bulls grabbed 46 rebounds, the Nets 47. That’s 93 combined.
There were more than 50 personal fouls and more than 50 assists.
It was epic and excruciating. The longer it went, the more it seemed the winner would take the series. The physical and emotional demands on the loser would seem too much to overcome.
That is the Nets’ monumental lot now. The Bulls are one step closer to getting wiped out by Miami.