The argument can be made Nate Robinson should have been ejected for driving C.J. Watson into the scorer’s table during a brief scuffle in the second quarter.
With four minutes left in regulation and a 14-point Nets lead it seemed inconsequential. Instead, the former Knicks guard carried the Bulls down the stretch in a 142-134 triple-overtime victory over Brooklyn.
The Nets, down 3-1 in the series, face elimination at home Monday night.
Robinson scored 29 points after the third quarter and 34 overall. He had a 12-0 run that cut a 109-95 lead to 109-107 with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
Being unable to stop Robinson was not the only Nets problem. With a chance to ice the game in regulation, Watson missed an easy transition dunk, Reggie Evans missed two free throws and the Nets gave up a 16-2 run to close out the fourth quarter.
Neither team gained significant separation in the overtimes until Chicago took a 133-128 lead on a Taj Gibson baseline jumper, a 135-130 lead on a jumper by Luol Deng with 2:35 remaining and a 137-132 edge on a Nazr Mohammed basket with 48 seconds left on a pick-and-roll play with Kirk Hinrich.
The final blow for the Nets came with 19 seconds left when Boozer missed a foul shot and Mohammed put back the miss for a 140-134 lead.
The Nets got solid individual performances from their trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez but each player was unable to changed the outcome in favor of Brooklyn.
Williams scored 32 points in 58 minutes, but had just two points after a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Johnson scored 22 points in 48 minutes and hit a buzzer-beating shot at the end of the first overtime. Although he hit two big shots in the final 12 seconds of that period, he also missed two jumpers that would have expanded a 116-113 lead. He also missed a potential go-ahead jumper with 6.9 seconds to play in the second overtime.
Lopez had 24 points in 52 minutes but missed a crucial free throw with 48.7 seconds left that would have given the Nets a one-point lead.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.