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NBA -- Bulls bounce back from tough Dallas loss


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- Once again the Chicago Bulls relied on their hustle plays and stingy defense to rally and come off with a 95-94 win, make it 18 straight victories against the visiting Detroit Pistons Sunday night.

Detroit started the game hot with an 18-5 lead as Chicago looked a bit sluggish defensively while the Pistons dominated the paint with swift interior passing and strong finishes at the basket.

The Bulls gained a bit of a spark after Pistons guard Brandon Knight planted a wayward elbow to the face of Jimmy Butler. Nate Robinson was quick to back up his fellow teammate and shoved Knight away from an ailing Butler while Kyle Singler tried to pull Robinson away from the activity.

Detroit's head coach Lawrence Frank ran onto the court immediately following Nate's push to help break everyone apart as unpleasant words were exchanged amongst the scuffle.

Upon an official review by the referees, Knight was dealt a flagrant one while Robinson and Singler were both given technical fouls that offset each other. "I got my guy's back regardless," Robinson said. "I'm not really worried about technical or whatever."

The Bulls used this fire and some gritty defense to finish the first quarter strong on a 15-6 run. Unfortunately, Chicago could never grasp the flow of the game as Detroit grew their lead by as much as 13 while Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Kyle Singler frustrated the Bulls by dominating the boards.

Chicago had trailed the Pistons all night since first taking a lead in the opening minutes 1-0. They couldn't seem to find the momentum for consistent looks and looked flat in the second quarter. With just over four minutes before half Daequan Cook fired a three point air ball that just barely hit the bottom of the netting. Following Cook's errant shot on the next possession Robinson pulled up and took a rushed trey of his own and completely missed everything.

The night looked as if Chicago would stick around and not quite catch up as they finished the half down four.

There seemed to be a little extra pep in the Chicago players steps in the third quarter as they played tough defense and made an extra effort everywhere they could on the floor despite the inconsistent shooting being just a shade over 40%.

The Bulls made key plays with long rebounds and finishes mainly from Carlos Boozer who followed through off a Kirk Hinrich missed layup to tip it in for the easy score with 7:45 left in the third to cut the Piston's lead to three. Only a few minutes later Boozer was in the right place at the right time off a "Captain Kirk" three point attempt which he then turned into a baseline driving jam that made the United Center erupt in cheers.

Finally, Chicago got the break they needed when Jimmy Butler got it done on the defensive end. Coming up with the steal off a lazy pass, Butler took the ball the length of the court for a two-handed dunk that brought the game to a 78-78 tie early in the fourth quarter.

After a Detroit timeout, Drummond made his way to the charity stripe for two shots. Andre hit as much of the rim on his tip to the free throw line as Derrick Rose had during regulation. Nothing. The United Center blew up with jeers and taunts and that gave the Bulls everything it needed to take control of the game and go on to finish off the Pistons 95-94.

Luol Deng was the man of the night coming one rebound shy of a double-double posting 28 points and nine rebounds. Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson each added 11 points for the Bulls and Cook finished with 10.

Rodney Stuckey came up big off the bench for Detroit with 25 points on 10-19 shooting while Greg Monroe was the lone man on the night with a double-double adding 18 points and 10 rebounds including four assists. even with two players giving big performances it wasn't enough as Singler hurt the Pistons by fouling out with eight minutes remaining in the fourth.

"We dodged a bullet," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We were fortunate, got out of a hole. ... We were just trying to find a way in the end. I thought it was the hustle plays."

Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli sat out for the Bulls. Noah has missed five straight games for plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and Belinelli has sat out four games with a strained abdominal muscle. Thibodeau said both players are day to day.

The Bulls head to Washington Tuesday night to battle the struggling Wizards who are coming off a big win against Toronto. Hopefully Chicago can carry that never back down spirit and break the season series tie (1-1) against Washington. RG)

Photo: Nate Robinson drives through Detroit's tough defense.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Alex Gardunio.


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