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 two 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 OT.
The Bulls finally pulled away after Williams (32 points) drove for a layup to pull Brooklyn to 133-130 with three minutes left. It was Williams’ only points after regulation.
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.
He converted a jump hook, then grabbed the rebound and scored with 19 seconds left after Carlos Boozer made a free throw and missed the second, making it 140-134.
The Bulls will try to wrap up the best-of-seven series at Brooklyn on Monday.
THUNDER 104, ROCKETS 101: Kevin Durant scored 41 points in his first game without injured All-Star Russell Westbrook, and visiting Oklahoma City fought off Houston’s late rally to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Durant scored 27 points in the first half, and the Thunder led by 26 points before a big third-quarter rally by the Rockets put them within striking distance.
Houston grabbed the lead with about four minutes left and was up with less than a minute remaining before Durant hit a 3-pointer to put Oklahoma City on top, 100-99.
GRIZZLIES 104, CLIPPERS 83: Marc Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Memphis won at home to even their first-round playoff series at 2-all.
Zach Randolph finished with 24 points and nine rebounds, and Mike Conley had 15 points and 13 assists.
HAWKS 90, PACERS 69: Al Horford had 26 points and 16 rebounds as Atlanta turned things around dramatically against Indiana, blowing out the visiting Pacers in Game 3.
The Hawks raced to a 54-30 halftime lead and narrowed the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta, where the Hawks have won 12 straight over the Pacers dating to 2006.
THUNDER: All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook is out for the remainder of the playoffs after undergoing knee surgery Saturday.
The team said in a statement that the surgery to repair a lateral meniscus tear in Westbrook’s right knee was successful and that a timetable for his return will be determined during the offseason.