The Brooklyn Nets needed this one. And they didn’t get it.

Facing a 2-1 series deficit Saturday afternoon, the Nets knew a Game 4 win was necessary to avoid needing three straight wins to close out the Bulls in their first-round playoff series. A win on Saturday would have meant essentially a best-of-three series, with two of those games (5 and 7) taking place on the Barclays Center floor.

And as the Nets came back from a halftime deficit to take an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter, and as Deron Williams’ 3-pointers and Joe Johnson’s post-up jumpers rattled home late, it became even more apparent that the Nets needed Game 3.

As the first and second overtimes came to a close with the game still tied, the Nets understood they could not waste 58 minutes of Deron Williams, 51 minutes of center Brook Lopez and 48 minutes of an injured Joe Johnson (foot) without coming away with a win.

To do so would mean a 3-1 deficit and, mentally, even more.

But that’s what occurred Saturday afternoon, as a four-hour, triple-overtime affair resulted in the Bulls outlasting the Nets, 142-134. Both teams are physically exhausted after eight players played more than 48 minutes and 276 points were scored. But only one team leaves the United Center for Brooklyn emotionally exhausted and unsure if they can recover from the deficit they now face.

“It’s definitely a momentum changer, and it’s kind of disappointing for us as players,” Johnson said of the 3-1 series. “Regardless of the situation, when you’ve got a team down like that on their home floor you’ve got to close out. And I thought we made a lot of mental errors down the stretch within three minutes, and it can’t happen like that.”

Before those last three minutes, the Nets sat firmly in the driver’s seat with a 14-point lead and just three minutes left to play. If they could just close out those pesky Bulls—a solid bet considering Tom Thibodeau’s group is known more for their defensive stops than instant offense—homecourt advantage would be theirs, with the series tied at two heading back to Brooklyn, where the Nets went 26-15 this season.