Trailing the Bulls by 11 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter, the Cavs looked to be on the ropes, with blowout chatter heating up online. LeBron James was again struggling to find the bottom of the bucket, and Derrick Rose was in fine form.
But the Cavs came back to take an 84-79 lead with just 41 seconds left in the game behind perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc by J.R. Smith and James’ insistence on getting into the teeth of Chicago’s defense. By then it was Chicago’s turn to wobble against the ropes, but like all things in this series, the momentum quickly flipped in favor of the home team.
Game 4 was a microcosm for this entire Bulls-Cavs series. So many stops and starts, the sheepish hivemind on NBA Twitter has been tripping all over themselves doubling back on a tweet they sent just a moment before. Any impulsive desire to have the first say was quickly stifled by the yo-yo u-turns for each team.
After the Cavs came back to take the late lead, Chicago showed their own mettle. Jimmy Butler hit a three-pointer with 27 seconds left to creep to a slim 84-82 deficit before the game took a turn towards the bizarre.
Cleveland took a timeout after advancing the ball across mid-court. With Mike Dunleavy stationed in the perfect spot to prevent an easy sideline inbounds to Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs were forced to take three (!!!) more timeouts before even throwing the ball in. That meant they were out of timeouts for the remainder of the game.
The Cavs finally got the ball in, but LeBron caught it just across mid-court where he was quickly clamped down on by a double-team with Dunleavy and Rose crowding him and the center line acting as a third defender. LeBron swiped his left elbow to try and muscle between the two Bulls and ended up catching Dunleavy on the shoulder…
It was an easy offensive foul for the refs to call.
So with 12 seconds left, the Bulls had the ball with a chance to tie or win outright. They spread the floor and let D-Rose go to work. A quick crossover on Iman Shumpert sprung the Bulls point into the lane where he got the layup to fall with eight seconds left despite LeBron’s looming shadow closing in on him as he approached the hoop.
Tie game, 84-84.