The Bulls and Nets staged an exhausting game Saturday. And that was just for the United Center fans who witnessed this instant classic.
In the end, the Bulls gutted it out in triple overtime. They emerged with a 142-134 comeback victory to earn a 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven series.
Game 5 will be at 6 p.m. Monday in Brooklyn.
“Huge win; huge win,” Joakim Noah said.
With players fouling out left and right in the third overtime, the Bulls got a key bucket from Nazr Mohammed. He connected in the lane after taking a feed from Kirk Hinrich with 32.6 seconds to play.
Mohammed came up huge again with 19 seconds to play, putting back a Carlos Boozer missed free throw for a 140-134 lead.
Mohammed was in for Noah, who fouled out after playing 39 minutes. Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson also fouled out for the Bulls.
The Bulls stormed back from a 109-95 deficit with 3:45 to play in regulation. It was all thanks to Robinson, who scored 12 consecutive points with an array of jumpers, free throws and an acrobatic layup.
Then Robinson (34 points) hit an unfathomable running bank shot with 2.1 seconds to play just in front of the 3-point line in overtime. But the Nets’ Joe Johnson sent it to double overtime with a floater just before the buzzer.
Brook Lopez rejected Noah near the rim to send it to triple OT – just the seventh such game (three overtimes or more) in NBA playoff history. The Bulls have now been involved in three, including 1993 vs. Phoenix and 2009 vs. Boston.
The Nets led 109-95 after a Gerald Wallace slam, and C.J. Watson could have made it a 16-point game. But the former Bulls guard got greedy, missing a wide-open, two-handed dunk.
Appropriate for Day 3 of the NFL draft, the game featured some big hits. Wallace went down hard on a Noah screen, and then Wallace exacted revenge – at the same spot on the court – with a pick on Robinson, who hit the deck.
In the second quarter, Robinson and Watson got technicals after getting tangled up at the scorer’s table. Robinson, who has not been shy about his dislike for Watson, drove him into the padded area after fouling him.
By Teddy Greenstein, Tribune reporter
5:16 p.m. CDT, April 27, 2013