Notebook: Bulls 95, Pistons 94



Posted Mar 31, 2013 11:24 PM

By Paul Ladewski, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: A Chicago Bulls victory against the Detroit Pistons has joined death and taxes on the list of inevitable things in life. The Bulls beat the Pistons 95-94 Sunday, and haven't lost to the Motor City crew since Dec. 23, 2008 -- a span of 18 games.

The streak is the best of its kind for Chicago (40-32) against the Pistons (24-50) since the mid-1990s, when they reeled off 19 consecutive victories.

At least the Pistons were competitive in this one. They led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and a half-dozen in the fourth period before Bulls forward Luol Deng and guard Nate Robinson came to the rescue. Deng scored 13 of his game-high 28 points in the final quarter, while Robinson had five of his 16 in that span. Guard Rodney Stuckey led the visitors with 25 points, while center Greg Monroe added 18 more.

The Bulls moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference race, percentage points ahead of the Atlanta Hawks, who were idle.

QUOTABLE: "I was concerned about this game, coming off one yesterday and understanding how important it is to be ready. We dodged a bullet. We were fortunate. We got out of a hole."

-- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau

THE STAT: Since March 1, the Pistons have lost 13 of 14 games to fall 26 games below the .500 mark.

QUOTABLE II: "This isn't a one-player problem This isn't a one-coach problem. This is a team problem that we all have to share the responsibility. We all want to get this right. We'll find [the answers] whether they're here on our roster now or whether it's [someone else] in the future that will play at a whole lot more competitive level. We're capable of doing a whole lot more."

-- Pistons coach Lawrence Frank

QUOTABLE III: "That team is going through a transition. They have a lot of young players. They're trying to figure out what works for them. But there's no explanation for a streak like this, especially at this level except to say it's about attitude and execution."

-- Bulls forward Taj Gibson

TURNING POINT: Late in the fourth quarter, Deng and Robinson drained consecutive 3-pointers to give their team a 94-81 advantage. In between, Robinson missed a short jump shot, but immediately stripped forward Charlie Villanueva (14 points) of the ball before he nailed a 3-pointer.

QUOTABLE IV: "It's pretty cool being [5-foot-9] like that, because he didn't see me. It was a sneak attack from behind him."

-- Nate Robinson

HOT: Chicago's Jimmy Butler had 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting and 7-for-9 from the line. Stuckey scored 16 points the first half and required only 11 shots to do it. He converted 6 of his 7 field goal tries and was 3-for-4 on free throw attempts.

NOT: The scored was tied early in the fourth period when Pistons rookie forward Andre Drummond (game-high 14 rebounds) threw up back-to-back airballs at the charity line. The first attempt hit nothing except air, and the second grazed the net on the way down. He entered the game with a .361 free-throw percentage.

GOOD MOVE: Thibodeau inserted Kirk Hinrich into the game midway through the fourth. The veteran guard reined in the offense and made several key defensive plays in the stretch drive.

BAD MOVE: After Stuckey passed up a shot on a drive to the basket, which would have made it a one-point game, Villanueva misfired on a 3-pointer under pressure with six seconds on the clock. Guard Jose Calderon was on the court despite a tendon injury that limited his range of motion.

NOTABLE: The Pistons-Bulls rivalry has been in remission for years, but there were signs of life in the first period. After Pistons guard Brandon Knight inadvertently elbowed counterpart Butler across the face, Robinson stepped in to shove Knight and forward Kyler Singler before order was restored. Knight was whistled for a flagrant foul on the play. In the third quarter, Gibson poked Stuckey in the right eye while the Piston fought through a pick. ... The Bulls had more free throws (27) than the Pistons had free-throw attempts (22) in the game. ... Boozer entered the contest with averages of 20.8 points and 12.5 rebounds in his last previous four games.

UP NEXT: For the Pistons, Monday @ Toronto, Wednesday@ Boston, Saturday@ Minnesota. For the Bulls, Tuesday @ Washington, Thursday@ Brooklyn, Friday vs. Orlando.