Nate Robinson came off the Chicago bench to score 34 points and the Bulls rallied to stun the Brooklyn Nets 142-134 in triple overtime on Saturday to seize command of their NBA play-off series.
The thriller matched the second-longest game in NBA play-off history, falling just short of Boston's four-overtime triumph against Syracuse in 1953, and resulted in record play-off point totals for both clubs.
Chicago took a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven match-up and will try to finish off the Nets and advance to the second round with a triumph in game five at Brooklyn on Monday.
The Nets led 109-95 late in the fourth quarter before Robinson scored 12 points in a 14-0 run that equalised.
Robinson's 23 points in the fourth quarter was one shy of Michael Jordan's team play-off record for scoring in a quarter. Robinson connected on 14-of-23 shots from the field but fouled out in the second extra session.
"We got a stop, and got the ball to Nate. Then we got a stop, and got the ball to Nate. Then we got a stop, and got the ball to Nate," Carlos Boozer said of Chicago's formula for the win.
Boozer added 21 points for Chicago, which had 15 points and 13 rebounds from Joakim Noah despite a foot injury.
Deron Williams led Brooklyn with 32 points while Brook Lopez added 26 and Joe Johnson contributed 22.
"It's tough, man," Johnson said. "It's definitely a heartbreaker. Honestly, this is definitely, definitely a game that we let get away. It's disappointing but the series is not over and we've got to keep working and trying to get better."
Noah sank a jumper early in the third over-time to give Chicago a 129-127 lead but then fouled out.
After a Reggie Evans free throw for the Nets, Jimmy Butler made a layup for Chicago and Taj Gibson, who replaced Noah, added a baseline jumper to give the Bulls a 133-128 lead.
Williams scored for the Nets, but Britain's Luol Deng answered with a long jumper for a 135-130 edge.
Lopez responded with two free throws for the Nets but Nazr Mohammed followed with an inside jumper to give Chicago a 137-132 lead.
After a Lopez layup, Boozer sank one of two free throws and Mohammed grabbed the rebound on the miss and scored to give Chicago a 140-134 advantage.
After Mohammed grabbed the rebound on a Johnson 3-point miss, the Bulls had finally secured an astonishing comeback victory that had seemed impossible in the final minutes of regulation.
Lopez hit the first 3-pointer of his NBA career to give the Nets an 84-76 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn had a 109-95 lead with less than three minutes to play in the fourth, but Robinson scored the next 12 points and assisted on the layup by Boozer that lifted Chicago level with 55 seconds remaining.
Lopez sank two free throws to put the Nets on top 111-109 but Noah scored off a rebound to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, Robinson sank a one-handed jumper over Williams with two seconds left but Johnson equalised at 121-121 on a jumper at the buzzer.
In the second overtime, Robinson gave the Bulls a 125-123 edge midway into the period and Noah followed with a slam dunk to put Chicago ahead 127-123.
Johnson answered with a 3-point play for the Nets and after Robinson fouled out Lopez made a free throw to equalise and set up the third overtime.
There was no such drama in Saturday's other Eastern Conference clash, as the Atlanta Hawks dominated defensively on their home floor en route to a 90-69 tout of the Indiana Pacers.
Al Horford scored a play-off career-high 26 points with 16 rebounds as Atlanta trimmed the deficit in the series to 2-1.
Josh Smith added 14 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Hawks, who host game four on Monday.
Memphis Grizzlies 104 Los Angeles Clippers 83
Marc Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Memphis beat Los Angeles to even the first-round play-off series at 2-all.
Zach Randolph finished with 24 points and nine rebounds as the Grizzlies won their second straight to ensure another stop in Memphis for Game 6. Mike Conley had 15 points and 13 assists, and Tayshaun Prince scored 15 in his best game of the series.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin had 19 points apiece for the Clippers, and Griffin also grabbed 10 rebounds. Los Angeles' reserves outscored its counterparts again, 43-16. But DeAndre Jordan was the only other starter to score for Los Angeles, and he had two points. Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler went a combined 0 for 10 from the floor in being shut out.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Atlanta Hawks 90 Indiana Pacers 69
Al Horford had 26 points and 16 rebounds as Atlanta turned things around dramatically in its play-off series against Indiana, blowing out the Pacers in Game 3.
Playing with much more urgency than they did in two double-digit losses at Indianapolis, 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.
The Hawks changed up their lineup - inserting 7-footer Johan Petro at center and bringing 3-point specialist Kyle Korver off the bench - after getting manhandled on the road. With more favorable matchups and a lot more energy, Atlanta suddenly made a series of it.
Indiana, which looked so dominant on its home court, was a totally different team after heading south. David West led the Pacers with 18 points. Paul George, who averaged 25 points in the first two games, was held to 16 on 4-of-11 shooting. The Pacers connected on a dismal 27 per cent (22 of 81) from the field
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