Brooklyn Nets : 134 : : Chicago Bulls : 142 (3OT) — April 27, 2013 (GAME 4)
I, like most fans, generally love overtime games, but once we start seeing multiple extra periods, it gets tedious and each team’s flaws become excruciatingly obvious, though the entire series has already made that point abundantly clear. It’s especially awful when the league’s games are packed into an unrealistically tight schedule like they are in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Clippers-Grizzlies game is the one that felt the full force of the NBA’s terrible television contracts today and the entire first half wasn’t broadcast nationally.
With that said, there was a bit of a pall cast over the late game proceedings and by the end of it, I came to hate the Brooklyn Nets. I hope we can lay their season to rest after Monday night because they are so done. They actually lead this game by 14 with less than 4 minutes in the game when C.J. Watson stole the ball and ran the other way for an easy dunk. He botched it and grabbed the rebound, but that was the last time he contributed anything positive to his team’s effort. After that, Chicago went on a 16-2 run that sent the game into overtime. It’s not like that run is his fault, but that is just about the exact moment the Nets went from from competent to begging the Bulls to put them out of their misery. Nate Robinson obliged their request, entering Kevorkian-mode and scoring 23 in the 4th quarter, including 12 straight after that Watson brick. Those 23 points are just one shy of Michael Jordan’s record for most points by a Bulls player in the 4th quarter of a playoff game. It was probably more painful to watch than MJ’s performance, but after the Bulls offense fell apart in the third quarter (when they were outscored 35-18), it was just what they needed: a whole lot of crazy.
Brooklyn got pretty good contributions from everyone in their rotation, but almost all of them disappeared for long stretches in the overtime periods, which might have something to do with all of the starters being worn out from playing 47 to 57 minutes. Joe Johnson played really well and paired with Wallace to score all but one of the Nets points in the first ten minutes of OT, but by the time Williams and Lopez joined in, it was too late and the Nets were left hoping for a miracle. Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace deserve a ton of credit for their play following a terrible couple of games that had people wondering why they were still starting. P. J. Carlesimo stuck with his guys though (mostly because there’s no one behind them in the rotation to turn to) and they rewarded him even in the loss.
It’s not really worth pointing to individual stat lines in a game like this for either team, but Nate Robinson’s 34 points in just 28 minutes before fouling out with a minute left in the second OT was just incredible. It’s probably not exactly what Tom Thibodeau has in mind when he preaches toughness, but you can’t deny the mental fortitude it took from the entire team to get this win. Robinson might be a defensive sieve that keep Thibs up at night, but lifting himself off the court after being leveled by a Gerald Wallace screen and then going on to destroy the Brooklyn Nets deserves it’s own entry in the dictionary under “toughness.”
Chicago Bulls lead the series 3-1