CHICAGO – The Chicago Bulls were down and just about out in this one. Go figure, Nate Robinson led them back.
Robinson scored 34 points, and Chicago wiped out a 14-point deficit late in regulation and beat the Brooklyn Nets 142-134 in triple overtime Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
The Bulls were trailing 109-95 in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when Robinson went on one of his tears, carrying his team to an improbable victory with a stretch that reminded the streaky point guard of a video game.
I always think I’m on fire, kind of like the old-school game NBA Jam,’ he said. You make a couple in a row, the rim’s on fire. You shoot the ball, the ball’s on fire. I feel like that at times – all the time. Whenever I’m in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence. You kind of have to lie to yourself and feel like you can’t miss.
There’s the rub with Robinson.
He’ll rush shots. He’ll miss. He’ll make his coach cringe and every Bulls fan groan, but then, he’ll do something like this.
Robinson scored all but five of his points after the third quarter, including the first 12 in a 14-0 run that wiped out Brooklyn’s late lead. Then, with 2 seconds left in the first overtime, he banked in a go-ahead jumper over Deron Williams.
Joe Johnson answered with one of his own to send it to another overtime, tied at 121. The Bulls had a chance to win in the closing seconds of the second extra session, but Joakim Noah was blocked, and the game went to a third overtime.
The Bulls finally pulled away after Williams (32 points) drove for a layup to pull Brooklyn to 133-130 with 3 minutes left.
Luol Deng then scored to make it a five-point game, and Nazr Mohammed hit two shots in the final 32 seconds to help preserve the win.
The Bulls will try to wrap up the best-of-seven series at Brooklyn on Monday. GRIZZLIES 104, CLIPPERS 83: In Memphis, Tenn., Marc Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Memphis evened the first-round series at 2-all. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
KNICKS’ SMITH SUSPENDED: The NBA suspended Knicks guard J.R. Smith for Game 4 of New York’s playoff series against Boston for elbowing the Celtics’ Jason Terry in the chin. Smith will be forced to sit out when the Knicks try to complete a four-game sweep today.
Smith, holding the ball, swung his elbow into Terry’s face with 7:06 remaining Friday night. Smith was given a flagrant foul 2, an automatic ejection.