Saturday, April 27, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Bulls 142, Nets 134 (3OT)
By Mike Mazzeo
WHAT IT MEANS: The Brooklyn Nets had a meltdown for the ages.
And just like that, they're on the brink of elimination.
Gerald Wallace's dunk with 3:45 left gave the Nets a 14-point lead over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon, but they couldn't hold it.
C.J. Watson missed a layup 30 seconds later and, fueled by 12 straight Nate Robinson points, the Bulls outscored the Nets 16-2 in the final 2:53 of regulation to send the game into overtime.
Brooklyn would go on to lose 142-134 in triple OT at United Center. Now they'll have to win three straight to advance into Round 2.
Only three NBA teams have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in 85 best-of-7 Eastern Conference quarterfinals series, according to whowins.com.
Robinson finished with 34 points -- 23 of them in the fourth quarter -- before fouling out with 1:02 remaining in the second extra session.
It was the longest playoff game in Nets franchise history. Arguably the most devastating loss, too.
The Nets, who averaged 79 points in the previous two games of the series, got whatever they wanted offensively, shooting 49.5 percent from the field. But they missed 16 free throws and had 19 turnovers, which led to 28 Chicago points.
JOE CLUTCH: Joe Johnson, who had three-game winning shots during the regular season, hit a floater in the lane as time expired to send the contest into a second overtime. It came after Robinson hit an impossible banker with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Bulls a 121-119 lead. "Iso Joe" also had a big three-point play in the second OT to bring the Nets within one, 127-126. At that point, he had scored nine straight points for the Nets.
Johnson finished with 22 points in 48 minutes.
D-WILL: Deron Williams, who shot just 6-for-23 combined in Games 2 and 3, erupted for 32 points in Game 4. Williams added 10 assists and went 11-for-25 from the field in 58 minutes. He notched his fourth dunk of the season and second of the series in the fourth quarter.
D-Will missed a shot that could've won the game at the end of regulation. He missed 10 of his last 12 shots.
BROOK-LYN: Brook Lopez, who had another terrific game -- finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 51 minutes -- hit his first-ever 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to give the Nets an 84-76 lead. His defensive stand at the end of the second overtime was impressive.
KNOW YOUR ROLE: Wallace, who claimed he didn't know what his role was after shooting a combined 2-for-15 in Games 2 and 3, scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists in Game 4. Wallace tweaked his left knee in the third quarter, but was able to shake it off. He fouled out in the second overtime.
Reggie Evans added a playoff career-high 15 points and 13 rebounds, giving the Nets more space to operate on offense.
THIRD IS THE GOOD WORD: The Nets outscored the Bulls 29-18 in the third quarter to take an eight-point lead into the fourth. D-Will had nine points in the period, while Wallace and Evans combined for 10. Chicago went just 7-for-18 in the quarter.
HE HATE ME: Watson and Robinson, to no one's surprise, got tangled up at the scorer's table and were assessed double technical fouls with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter. Robinson, who was playing defense, took exception to a shove from Watson with his off-hand, and aggressively pushed the Nets' backup point guard after being called for a foul. The two had to be separated. In the fourth quarter, Wallace leveled Robinson on a screen.
COMING BACK: The Nets, who trailed by as many as 11, closed the first half on an 8-0 run to trail just 58-55. D-Will led Brooklyn with 15 points and seven assists in the opening 24 minutes, while Andray Blatche added 11 on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting. The Bulls shot 57.5 percent in the first half, while the Nets shot 54.1 percent.
MR. FIRST QUARTER: Behind 12 points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal by Lopez, the Nets held a 26-25 lead after the first quarter. As a team, Brooklyn went 10-for-17 from the field in the period.
UP NEXT: Game 5 at 7 p.m. Monday at Barclays Center.