Bulls fight off Nets, refs, in epic come back to take commanding lead of the series

It started with a C.J. Watson missed dunk. Brook Lopez laughed, and well it didn't seem like much of a big deal did it? Who blows a 14 point lead with three minutes and 15 seconds left? Then Nate Robinson happened.

Little Nate went on a 12 point run by himself, knocking down a three, hitting a layup, a mid range jumper, then getting fouled on a three point attempt. Suddenly the 14 point lead was down to two with a minute left. Then Robinson forced a 5 second violation by denying C.J. the inbounds pass and hit Carlos Boozer while driving the lane where he completed the layup to tie the game.

The Nets knocked down a couple foul shots, but Joakim Noah put back Luol Deng's errant three on his second attempt and the Bulls were sending this game to overtime.

Robinson finished with 23 points in the fourth quarter, one shy of Jordan's record 24 for any quarter of playoff basketball.

Then the real fun started. In Nets took the early lead in OT, and it looked like the Bulls may have used up too much juice coming back to continue the fight in OT. Chicago suddenly had gone away from Nate Robinson until a shade over a minute left when Robinson drilled a jumper to tie the game.

Carlos Boozer put the Bulls ahead on the next possession only to have Joe Johnson hit a tough jumper to tie it, then Nate Robinson hit a runner leaping from the three point line that banked in and looked like a game winner. The Nets had the ball with only two seconds to go, but Joe Johnson shook off the long three and used all that time to hit a fading floater in the lane over Luol Deng as the clock expired.

The second overtime wasn't much of a shootout as both teams scored six. Noah came up big twice, but the biggest problem for Chicago was Nate Robinson fouled out of the game, and the Bulls suddenly lost the guy creating all their offense for the past 15 minutes or so. It didn't look good for Chicago going into the third OT.

However, the Bulls took a quick lead off a Noah jumper, but Joakim fouled out on the next possession. The Bulls kept coming though with Butler hitting a layup and Taj finishing a jumper, and Chicago built up a five point lead.

Gibson then fouled while Lopez knocked down two free throws to put cut the lead to three. However, Nazr stepped up off the bench with a floater that looked like a dagger. Lopez answered with a layup, but the Bulls were up by three with the ball with 20 seconds to go.

Carlos Boozer knocked down the first free throw to have Nazr Mohammed rebound the miss and hit a layup (he was also fouled but missed the free throw), but the lead was built back up to six and hope the Nets had died away.

To say the officiating was bad would be a kindness

I don't know that I've seen a game that looked more one sided down the stretch. The Nets hit Joakim Noah hard on drives on multipole plays without getting whistled while the Bulls were repeatedly whistled for ticky tack calls and plays that were clear non fouls on replay. Steve Kerr even mentioned it on several occasions on the national feed where the announcers usually shy away from bringing that type of thing into the telecast.

That said, the Bulls fought through every tough break, every bad call, and continued to play their game and won.

The Nets shot 16 more free throws than Chicago which didn't stop Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo from noting in the post game interview that the Nets had tough calls go against them [truly one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard].

Hats off to Nate Robinson

Steve Kerr noted in the telecast (paraphrasing off memory here) that this was the best fourth quarter performance he's ever seen by a reserve. Quite honestly, it's one of the better fourth quarter performances you'll see period. When you come one point shy of setting the franchise record for points in a playoff quarter and lead your team back from 14 points down with three minutes to go then you've done something special.

After the Nets finally started trapping Robinson repeatedly on the pick and roll, Nate did a nice job of feeding the big man to keep the offense rolling. Beyond his hot shooting, Nate also was an excellent decision maker in this game. It was truly Nate Robinson at his best.

Throw in C.J.'s missed dunk, and I think we can close the book on who's won the C.J. vs Nate matchup for who's the better backup PG.

Impressive work by guys coming in cold

The Bulls had to keep bringing guys back in as players fouled out, but everyone who came in made a contribution. Butler hat a shot, Taj hit a shot, Nazr hit two dagger shots. The next man truly did step up. The Bulls did have enough to win.

So does Thibs get choked out?

I kid. I kid.

Joakim Noah went a wee bit past his minute limit and would have gone even further past it had he not fouled out. He ended up playing for 39 minutes and made a considerable impact in the second OT. I don't think you could have dragged Noah of the court if you had the entire bench bum rush him and try to carry him off.

It will be interesting to see what impact the extra minutes will have on Joakim (if any), but let's face it. The Bulls weren't winning without Noah's extra time, so whatever the cost, it was worth it [assuming it doesn't drag into next season].

Does Brooklyn have any hope of getting off the mat?

Not many teams come back from a 3-1 deficit, but it has happened. Brooklyn also will get to make the attempt with two home games. They also have the talent to do it if they play well.

The Bulls have taken a three to one lead through coaching, will power, and want it. This Chicago team has been tough as nails, fought back against adversity, and risen to the occasion. You know the season isn't ending with a championship, but it looks like the Bulls will give us something to be proud of this post-season anyway.

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  • Nate Robinson likely came as close as anyone will to single-handedly winning you a playoff series. It will be interesting to see what happens with him this offseason.

    The Bulls have wildly exceeded my expectations. I shudder to think of all the heat (pun time) Derrick is going to take next round against the Heat in a series the Bulls just can't win. Also, how is it possible Wallace and Deng are tied 2-2 in games outplaying the other? It should add fuel to the fire of fans who want to see a trade worked with Deng this offseason.

  • "Then the real fun started. In Nets took the early lead in OT"

    Typo alert!

  • Nate Rob gangstered the game away from the Nets and the refs. The refs did everything they could to hand the Nets game 4 but little Nate wasn't having it. Although Nate fouled out in the second OT, he pretty much set the Bulls up for the win with his intensity and straight up heart and hustle for the rest of the guys to follow. I believe it will be hard for the Bulls to close out this series and hopefully if they can't close it out in Brooklyn, theh can end it in game 6 back inChicago. And forgot to mention Derron Williams had a big game, hopefully the Bulls defense can get him shut down again and hope the Bulls can contain Joe Johnson who proved he is absolutely clutch, that dude came up big in the first 2 overtimes.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Oh...and the Bulls better find a way to keep Nate next year cause he's exactly what this Bulls team need with his hustle intensity energy and flat out big heart. It would be such disservice in letting Nate leave the city of Chicago.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Any guesses as to what length and $$ contract Nate signs this offseason?

    Nate is better than Ben Gordon ever was.
    Gordon could shoot the Bulls back into games with 15 point quarters, but could not close the last two minutes. This was due to defenses double teaming Gordon late if he was on fire, combined with Gordon's horrible ballhandling. Gordon always forced a bad shot or turned it over in the closing minutes or two - granted after he had shot the Bulls back into the game.

    That was special seeing Nate assist bigs when he was double teamed.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Not that I would ever want his contract, but Johnsons performance last night demonstrated a big difference between a massively overpaid guy like him and our massively overpaid guy, Bozo the Bamboozler. Johnson hit more big shots in one game than Bozo has hit for the Bulls in 3 years. Of course more than zero isn't too high of a bar.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    2 totally different players, at 2 totally different positions, with 2 totally dif contracts. I'll take Boozer's performance in this series over Johnson's. Boozer is averagng 20, 11 & 3 on 59% shooting! I'm not a huge Boozer fan myself, but I have to give credit when it is due.

  • Great game and great effort by the Bulls! Nate has been joy to watch in Derrick's abscence. The whole team really stepped it up after that embarrassing game one. Hope they close it out in Brooklyn and get a bit of rest before their matchup with Miami. Maybe Milwaukee can do us a favor and win one today.

  • Nate's the man. He's the one player out of all the guys we picked up that I think should come back next year, but as cheap as the Bulls are I just don't see that happening. I would love to see him come back in a 6th man kind of role. He's streaky but when he's on he's on he's among the best scorers in the game, even better than Rose at times.

  • What a game! Living in Seattle, Nate's signing was exciting for my family, who have watched him have an outstanding season with our NBA pass. What has been even better is the that my son plays on the same AAU team that Nate did so it has made my boy feel even better about himself with that association.
    Nate was always a star in Seattle playing both basketball and football at UW. He then has made his way around the NBA despite his small size winning a du k championship to boot. I can't imagine what this season would of been like without him. All the injuries and Rose not returning would of really been a let down.
    Many of you have written about how these playoffs are a waste of time since without Rose the Bulls have no shot to win it all. While that is true, that is not why I love to watch the Bulls. I watch them because no matter how bad the odds are stacked against them they come out and play almost every game hard with whoever can go that game. That is a team that I can be proud of and watching them take it to the Nets has already made these playoffs worth watching no matter what happens against Miami.

    On another note, while Carlos certainly has his defensive flaws that can be very irritating, he has been amazing this season. He seems to has attacked conditioning this season and has been healthy for likely the first time as a Bull. While we could probably get by with Taj as our PF, Boozer bring an offensive skill set that leaves me shaking my head on many a night. Boozer is an incredibly gifted offensive player. He also seems to be a good teammate. I am tired of hearing what he can't do and appreciate what he can do. Which goes for Luol and actualy the whole Bulls team as well.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Sorry for the typos and gram errors. By the way, I hate officials at every level of the game. Yesterday was yet another example of why. I really hope the league does something and punishes these poor performances.

    Also, don't think Doug mentioned the Watson/Robinson scuffle. Lol Don't think CJ wants any part of that matchup.

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    In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Just wait until Bigway makes his appearance and dumps all over Boozer. Lot of guys on this board probably upset with the way some of their usual targets have been playing well.

  • In reply to Ripper:

    Well, since you brought it up, why don't you go back and watch the tape of the Gerald Wallace dunk that put the Nets up by 14 with 3+ plus minutes to play.

    That was likely the single worst(most moronic) defensive play in the history of basketball at level anywhere in the history of the world. Want to guess who made this moronic defensive play, I almost broke my TV replaying it several times because I couldn't believe my eyes.

    If you want more evidence, look at the tape of Bozo's missed free throw in overtime that Nasi rebounded for a putback to seal the victory. The guys feet were so firmly implanted in concrete that he never even moved an eye brow in either direction while everyone else was scrambling to make a play, but he would have made a great spectator or even a cheerleader.

    The guy is a mentally and physically lazy piece of shit, and scoring a couple of extra baskets in non crunch time doesn't change the facts.

    While your at it, go back and look at his stats as a Bull, they haven't changed much, his first year being his best, this year arguably his worst as he shot 47% from the field vs his 53% career average. Yet everybody is acting like he has somehow played remarkably better this year, the law of decreasing expectations.

    I notice how nobody is signing his praises today, since he had virtually nothing to do with creating the victory that was nearly single handedly delivered by a 5'9" minimum salaried reserve who I root for whole heartedly because he gives us everything that he has every minute that he is on the floor. and the other guy who won the game for us in crunch time was the guy that has been my favorite Bull from the day that we drafted him, Noah.

    I'll take a team of my guys(Noah, Nate, Taj, Jimmy, even Kirk vs your guys(Bozo, Ben Gordon and other assorted malingering clowns) any day any where.

    Have a great day and keep deluding yourself.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    Sure enough you did not disappoint. Love it how you will parse out specific plays to prove how bad Boozer is. Have you come up with some more childish nicknames for him too? Then throw in a couple of straw men arguments (my team?) and its classic bitter bigway. Hope for you the bulls will lose the next couple of games so you can feed your hate a little more, b/c you bitching about them after great games does not have that same cache.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Agree! You can't just trade deng and boozer for anybody thats not star an expect bulls to be better or same level. Tired of hearing trade deng for granger or gay. He is better all around player than theses guys especially bball IQ. And if boozer can be consistent with offense I don't care about his defense to honest with you.

    I just wish we could get a legit 2 guard and see how far we can go.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Boozer is absolutely consistent with his offense, as a Bull he has consistently averaged 15 & 9, that is what he gives you on a regular basis. If that is good enough for a guy who is directly or indirectly responsible for at least 50% of the points that the Bulls give up while he is on the floor then more power to you and no NBA championship to you also.

    Like I've said a million times, in order to make up for being the worst defensive player in the history of the league, he would have to be a young Wilt Chamberlain on offense, or at least Michael Jordan. I don't think that 15 & 9 quite gets it done.

    While you can't just trade Deng and Bozo for anybody, a savvy management team should be able to find a way to spend $30 million per year in a more effective way. For instance, you think that the SA Spurs would spend $30 million on Deng and Boozer.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    20 and 10 consistently is what I mean. I m not even gonna respond to the rest of that non sense!

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    In reply to bullzfan:

    Don't even bother, if Boozer were to walk on water Bigway would be there to obsess about how the bottoms of his feet got wet. I check in once in a while after a bulls win to see his latest anti boozer rant, which will come regardless of boozer's stats.

  • Robinson may have played his way out of the Bulls price range! But I would love to see if Rose and Robinson could play together.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    The Bulls probably have no intention of resigning Robinson who is just the kind of bench scorer the Bulls were needing a few years back. Instead they will go n a salary dumping expedition so they can have "more flexibility" and avoid the repeater tax. People forget that Taj Gibson's 8 million a year contract kicks in next season, they have hinrich for another year at 4 million and of course they want to develop Teague who looks likes he needs the developmental minutes and the summerleagues. Who knows maybe we can get lucky this year and Vince Carter will want to play here, those are the kind of players the Bulls will be looking for.......old vets on min deal that can still play some.

  • How do we not retain Nate after what he has done the last few weeks. As Doug suggested after his last outburst, he really is the lovable version of Ben Gordon, only a lot better.

    Unfortunately, I too doubt that he is really even on the Bulls agenda, especially given our limited ability to sign anybody, the mini MLE.

    I was quietly ecstatic when we signed him as almost an afterthought toward the end of the offseason signing period. He has been way better than expected, and you have to love the fire in his belly and infectious attitude that he brings to the team.

    While it would be nice to retain Belly, and or get a better fourth big, I would be quite satisfied entering next season with a guard rotation of Rose, Butler, Hinrich, and Nate, with Jimmy also being Dengs primary backup.

    I am rooting for him bigtime, hope that we keep him, is he worth the full mini MLE, 3 years and $9 million, will someone offer him more?

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