Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng, left, drives to the basket against...

Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng, left, drives to the basket against Nets' Andray Blatche during the first half in Game 4 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series. (April 27, 2013) Credit: AP

Arms folded with his feet soaking in a bucket of ice water, Deron Williams stared blankly at the space in front of him, almost as if he were daydreaming.

The Nets point guard was befuddled, confused, angry, disappointed, annoyed. He looked as if he had just come face-to-face with a ghost.

"It's a lot of emotions," Williams said. "You're frustrated, you're upset, tired. A lot of emotions."

Raw emotions, too, after such an epic collapse, one that has the Nets on the brink of elimination.

They coughed up a 14-point lead late in the fourth quarter and couldn't get it done in any of the extra sessions, dropping a 142-134 triple-overtime decision to the Bulls in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at United Center on Saturday.

Game 5 is Monday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets, who have lost three straight after clobbering Chicago in the series opener, couldn't win despite taking the game's largest lead (109-95) on Gerald Wallace's dunk with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter.

They couldn't win even though Nate Robinson, who scored 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, fouled out in the second overtime.

They couldn't get it done although interior bruiser Joakim Noah fouled out in the third overtime along with Taj Gibson.

Even Joe Johnson's clutch buckets to force the first overtime and help force the second OT weren't enough.

Only one word can properly sum up Saturday's action: unbelieva-bull.

"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, man, but the series is not over and we've got to keep working and trying to get better."

Williams, who had 32 points and 10 assists but also committed seven turnovers in nearly 58 minutes, said: "We lost this game. We were up 14 and we made a lot of mistakes."

Perhaps none bigger than allowing Robinson to go berserk when the Nets had the game well in hand.

Although things weren't truly settled until Nazr Mohammed's layup that gave Chicago a 140-134 lead with 19 seconds left in the third overtime, this one essentially was lost in the fourth, moments after C.J. Watson's blown fast-break dunk with 3:16 left.

Some fans already were headed home early on a sun-splashed afternoon. But Robinson went wild in the fourth quarter, virtually bringing the Bulls all the way back by himself. He scored 12 straight points to bring the Bulls within 109-107 with 1:11 left in regulation.

"I mean, he got hot," Wallace said. "Our rotations weren't there fast enough. He was getting into his shots and he used the screen-and-roll pretty well. So I think the main thing is when we are in a situation like that, we have to get the ball out of his hands. They did a great job of milking their cow and he carried them for a while."

Now the Nets are the ones who are going to have to bring home the bacon. After all the work they did to grab home-court advantage in the first round -- not to mention that blowout in the series opener -- they face the prospect of having to win three straight games.

"Anything's possible, man," Johnson said. "We definitely are not counting ourselves out. We get to go back home, get to play in front of our home crowd and hopefully we can do whatever it takes to make it back here to Chicago."

"It's going to be tough, but we feel like we can do it," Williams said. "One game at a time is all it takes. We've got to worry about Monday."

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