Notebook: Bulls 104, Timberwolves 97

Posted Mar 24, 2013 11:01 PM

By Jim Beilby, for

THE FACTS: With both teams missing key players, the Chicago Bulls outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-97 on Sunday night.

Despite missing Joakim Noah and Rip Hamilton, Chicago (38-31) took advantage of the absence of Kevin Love and controlled the glass for the entire game. And the physicality of guards Jimmy Butler and super sub Nate Robinson gave Minnesota (24-44) fits, Butler with his size and Robinson with his aggressiveness. Robinson came off the bench to lead Chicago with 22 points and 10 assists, while Butler had 20 points and nine rebounds.

Minnesota made 10-2 a run midway through the third quarter, due largely to the effort of Ricky Rubio. He only scored three points in that run, but he created shots for his teammates and caused havoc on defensive end, cutting a comfortable 16-point Chicago lead to eight. In the fourth quarter, Minnesota hit three straight 3-pointers and made another run to cut the lead to five. But bad fouls and a J. J. Barea technical helped Chicago build their lead back to 15.

Derrick Williams led the way for Minnesota, tying his career high with 28 points. But he only had five rebounds, none offensive, and three turnovers -- the last of which helped kill Minnesota's hope's in the final minutes of the game. Rubio had 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

QUOTABLE: "We just didn't play hard enough at the start of the game. They got control of it. The second half, we picked it up, but it was too late. We shot decently, but they killed us on the boards; killed us on the offensive boards."

-- Minnesota coach Rick Adelman

THE STAT: Minnesota shot a better percentage (50 percent to 46.1) and had fewer turnovers (13 to 15). But Chicago established their inside dominance right out of the gate. They built a 21-10 rebounding advantage in the opening frame, and were 11-1 on the offensive boards and 10-0 second chance points in that quarter. Chicago finished with a 60-38 advantage on the glass, a 20-6 advantage in offensive boards and a 50-38 edge in points in the paint.

TURNING POINT: After building an early seven-point lead, Minnesota watched Chicago go on a 32-10 run to finish the first quarter and start the second. Chicago then went on a 13-3 run in which Butler scored five points (all off free throws) and Robinson made a pair of 3s, deflating the Target Center crowd.

QUOTABLE II: "We were in mud to start the game. I thought we had some good looks that we didn't make and we got a second and third shot at it. I thought that that gave us life. Once we got going a bit I thought that was the whole key to the game."

-- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

HOT: Robinson was 9-for-16 and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. And his physical play goaded Barea into a foolish technical foul in the final quarter.

NOT: Kirk Hinrich was 3-for-12 and looked to be still shaking off the rust that accumulated during the games he missed due to a right foot injury.

NOTABLE: Minnesota is coming off a 31-point win in Phoenix, their second-largest road victory in team history. ... Love received his Olympic Gold Metal ring prior to the game. ... Tonight is Chicago's seventh straight victory over Minnesota. ... The last time Minnesota has won on consecutive nights was 98 days ago (December 14 and 15). ... Minnesota has won three of their last four at Target Center, their best streak since winning five in a row at home in December.

UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Tuesday @ Pistons, Wednesday vs. Lakers, Friday vs. Thunder. For the Bulls, Wednesday vs. Miami, Saturday @ Dallas, Sunday vs. Detroit.