Incredible. I tweeted that at some point during yesterday's incredible Game 4 between the Bulls and the Nets, a game that will certainly go down in the NBA's playoff history books. The game, in Chicago, had three overtimes, multiple foul-outs, a few technical fouls, tons of buzzer-beaters, a crap-load of Nate Robinson, absurd amounts of missed free throws, and classic Nets despair.
Brooklyn was up 109-95 with just under 200 seconds left in the game when C.J. missed the easiest shot of his NBA career, in a playoff game no less. Although he was able to rebound his miss and get the ball to Reggie Evans to get fouled (he missed both FTs), Watson's moment of failure will go down as one of the worst in playoff history, as if he had made the dunk, the Nets would have been up 16 with basically three minutes left. But the miss left the door open to 15 more minutes of overtime basketball, after which the Bulls came out victorious.
Trying to fight off an unconsciously-hot Nate Robinson, who couldn't miss in the 4th quarter and early overtimes, the Nets were able to withstand a Chicago surge in the 1st overtime, but relied on a patented Joe Johnson lane-floater to send the game into a 2nd OT period following a ridiculously-absurd Robinson running bank-floater from 23 feet that gave the Bulls a two-point lead with just two ticks left in the 1st OT. No, this game didn't end easily.
The next period was very similar to the first one, in that, the Nets went away–naturally–from what kept them in the game (interior scoring with Brook Lopez) and shifted to iso-Joe offense, which resulted in just six 2OT points and a missed jumper with six seconds left that allowed the Bulls to get a chance at a game-winner (which they missed). Onto a 3rd overtime.
This one would be a lot less competitive than the others, as the Bulls cashed in on a Joakim Noah jumper right after winning the tip, an immediate bad omen for the Nets. Brooklyn was able to keep up with a few buckets, but the floodgates burst open on a Jimmy Butler layup hat gave Chicago a three-point lead with just over four minutes left in the period. The Bulls scored some insurance points throughout the final stretch to pad their lead to an unsurmountable eight supplemented by a massive putback by Nets free agent target Nazr Mohammed. Awful, awful loss for Brooklyn.
Some other observations I had from the game: #ReggieEvansPlayoffReboundWatch: Just 13 in 50 minutes. For comparison, Reggie had 12 in 25 mins in Game 3. Half the time, just one less rebound. Yesterday was NOT a good day for Mr. Evans……Great games from the rest of the Nets starters (Wallace, Brook, Deron, and Joe). Although he fouled out late, Gerald was all over the place during the 48 minutes he played, helping out with 17 points (two huge threes, one at the end of the 2rd quarter) and nine boards. Brook was unstoppable down low, scoring 26 with 11 boards and four massive blocks, a few that helped prolong the game. Stopped the ball a bit on offense but that's just how he played. Missed a few key box-outs though. Deron hit five threes en route to 32 points and 10 assists, but committed SEVEN turnovers (ughughughugh). That's unacceptable in a playoff game vs a good defensive team and took crucial possessions out of the Nets' hands. Couldn't stop Nate Robinson or Kirk Hinrich much, though. Joe was on point close to the basket, but was dismal from beyond the arc (1-6). Scored 20 and tied up the game at the 1st OT buzzer but settled for too many low-percentage jumpers…..Blatche scored 13 off the bench in 18 minutes but CJ just scored 9 in 31. Watson was inefficient yet again, missing another key, open three and of course the possible game-sealing dunk. Hump, Stack, and MarShon all played sparingly and Bogans didn't see the floor yet again…..Also, Nets shot under 65 percent from the free throw line (29-45). If you want one stat to blame the loss on, make it that. Reggie was 5-12 from the line and Gerald 5-9…..We just watched the best game of Nate Robinson's career and maybe one of the best and most improbable shooting performances in playoff history. Nate scored 34 in just 29 minutes on 14-23 shooting. He made off-balanced, contested, improbable shots that were just impossible to guard. His hot streak singlehandedly brought the Bulls back into this game…..Brook also hit his first-career three-pointer, in fadeaway fashion at the end of the 3rd quarter with the clock winding down. A crazy shot that put the Nets up eight heading into the 4th, but clearly was in vain.
Down 3-1, the Nets head back to Brooklyn to try and extend this series vs the Bulls at the Barclays Center. Don't see that happening, however, after a loss this crushing.