Nate Robinson’s game-winning shot against the Brooklyn Nets should not result in an inappropriate amount of fawning. After all, this was a reserve guard on a team missing three starters and its two top reserves downing another mediocre team from a terrible Eastern Conference. Then again, those same absences made it so Nate’s Chicago Bulls seemed like the ultimate underdog, especially after they were doubled up by the Nets by a 26-13 score in the first period, clearly outmatched by the favored Nets.
A comeback ensued, though. And Robinson, taking a page out of the injured Derrick Rose’s missing playbook, launched a game-deciding floater. Watch:
Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez, who torched Chicago for 20 first-half points, then had a layup blocked by Bulls center Nazr Mohammed and a long right-corner jumper rim out in the final seconds, as the Bulls clinched the win.
And again, this is a Bulls team relying on Mohammed, Carlos Boozer, the injured Kirk Hinrich (who fouled out), Robinson, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler to make hay on the road. Up against the healthy members of Brooklyn’s $83 million payroll.
Chicago isn’t likely to overcome the Nets and take hold of the fourth seed in the East, but it did technically move past the Atlanta Hawks to move into fifth place in the East with the win, setting up a potential first-round series against a Nets team nobody can make heads nor tails of.
The same description could be used for Chicago’s hero of the night, the 5-foot-9 Robinson. The guard was a much-mocked afterthought during Chicago’s lost offseason of 2012, but he’s helped secure some of the better moments of the team’s lost year of 2012-13. Despite his wayward decisions, at times, some Bulls followers are wondering if the backup guard wouldn’t be the perfect spark for a 2013-14 Bulls team that would presumably feature a returned Rose in the starting role.
The Arlington Heights’ Daily Herald’s Mike McGraw asked as much earlier in the week, quoting Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau along the way:
"That's Nate. He's a catalyst," Thibodeau said. "As my former boss would say, he's scaring both of us. The thing is, he's very confident. You need to be confident in this league.”
That’s a reference to Doc Rivers, with whom Thibodeau worked in Boston with the Celtics for years, a guy who recently placed Jordan Crawford on the “All-Scare Team,” because he scares both his own and the opposing coach for his ability to either shoot his team in or out of games. Robinson would clearly be the All-Scare Team’s lead guard.
The Bulls have tripped over their own feet in losses to the Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards and several other lesser lights this year. They’ve also downed the Miami Heat twice and came back from 16-points to a Nets team with which they had no business competing on Thursday. Even if the Bulls head into the postseason with seven healthy players, this is the walking, usually talking, All-Scare Team.