Bulls fall to Cavaliers in Game 4 on LeBron James’ buzzer beater

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Sleep shouldn’t have come easy Sunday night.

Not after Game 4.

Not after the Bulls let LeBron James off the hook yet again, only to be haunted by “The King’’ and his heroics, as his 21-foot jumper cut through the net at the buzzer.

Jimmy Butler didn’t even bother to show up and meet with the media after the 86-84 loss. Nikola Mirotic refused to comment. Taj Gibson’s session with the media was cut short after a curt exchange with a reporter.

“Tough shot,’’ Gibson said while describing James’ basket that tied the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2. “You saw him fading away from the three-point line. What do you think we should have done, let me ask you that?’’

When told “You’re the expert,’’ well, Brooklyn patience lasts only so long.

But the Bulls only had themselves to blame for not being up 3-1 and putting the second-seeded Cavs on the brink.

Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving was playing on one good foot and was a defensive liability. The Cavs were down 11 points with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. As for James, he was less than stellar, entering the final quarter shooting 7-for-22 with five turnovers.

But this is 2014-15 Bulls basketball, where lack of practice time because of injuries and restrictions has led to stagnant moments all season long. The latest was a fourth quarter in which the Cavs were allowed to claw their way back into it. Even Mike Dunleavy couldn’t wrap his arms around it.

“Yeah, but we’ve been like that all year,’’ he said. “We just can’t step on peoples’ throats. For whatever reason, there’s just too many stagnant offensive possessions. That has just kind of been our Achilles’ heel on the offensive end.

“It’s not surprising. It’s disappointing. But it’s almost like nothing comes easy for us. We know we’re going to be in a dogfight and expect it to come down to the last shot.’’

Asked how much lack of continuity was still an issue, Dunleavy responded, “Yeah, hard to say, but unfortunately we’ve been pretty consistent in doing it that way, so a little bit of getting stagnant on the offensive end, not getting into our offense quick enough. It’s kind of been our weak spot.’’

Even with that weak spot exposed, Derrick Rose still was doing his part. After he played hero in Game 3 with a buzzer beater, Rose tied Game 4 on a layup with 9.4 seconds left.

On the final possession, James drove and lost the ball out of bounds, but Mirotic was the last to touch it, setting up James’ heroics with 1.5 seconds left.

But not before he overruled coach David Blatt, again showing how the Cavs are winning in spite of their rookie coach.

“To be honest, the play that was drawn up, I scratched it,’’ James said. “I told Coach just give me the ball. We’re either going to go into overtime or I’m going to win it for us. It was that simple.

“I was supposed to take the ball out. I told Coach there’s no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and it could go in. I told him have someone get me the ball and everyone get out the way.’’

And just like that, it’s now a best-of-three series, with the Cavs having home-court again.

“It’s frustrating,’’ Gibson said. “No doubt we let them off the hook.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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