CHICAGO (NBA.com exclusive) -- The Chicago Bulls are becoming a second-half basketball team.
Trailing at halftime to the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, the Bulls put on a display of enthusiastic, up-and-down basketball in the second half and took advantage of Charlotte's mistakes, then held on to keep their unbeaten home record intact.
John Salmons scored 27 points while Joakim Noah had a career-high 21 points and 16 rebounds as the Bulls defeated the Bobcats 93-90 Saturday at the United Center. The outcome lifted the Bulls to 3-0 at home and extended their winning streak to three games, while Charlotte fell to 0-3 on the road.
With the win Saturday and their upset win at Cleveland on Thursday, the 4-2 Bulls remained on top of the Central Division standings.
Boris Diaw had 20 points for the Bobcats but only six in the second half. The Bobcats, the worst shooting team in the league, shot under 30 percent in the second half. The Bulls got up by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter but they let the Bobcats back into the game by missing five of six free throws in the final quarter. They also committed five turnovers while trying to protect the lead.
Still, the Bobcats couldn't hit shots they needed in the final two minutes, and the Bulls were victorious.
There were revealing statistics from the final box score - the Bulls shot better than 43 percent for the first time, and became the first team to out-rebound the Bobcats this season - but it was the third quarter charge that turned the game in their favor.
"I thought our intensity and energy was better in the second half,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said.
"Noah played great, and they hit four or five jumpers when we were getting anything out of it,'' Charlotte coach Larry Brown said.
The Bobcats (3-3) entered the game as one of the best rebounding teams in the league and they led almost the entire first half. Entering the second half with a 53-46 edge, they were shooting 50 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point range. Vladimir Radmanovic had three 3-pointers as the Bobcats have fallen in love with the long-range jumper over the past couple of games.
What happened in the third quarter was perhaps the best quarter of basketball for the Bulls all season. They outscored Charlotte 27-17, scored 10 points on fast breaks, shot 12 for 18 (67 percent) from the field and sparked the UC crowd.
The Bobcats led 70-61 with 3:43 left in the third quarter, then Salmons scored on a fast break layup, Kirk Hinrich made a 3-pointer, Hinrich made a pair of free throws, Noah scored on a hook shot that gave the Bulls the lead, then scored on a tip of a Salmons missed layup to give the Bulls the 73-70 lead at the end of the quarter. The Bulls then scored four of the first five baskets of the fourth quarter and had an 81-72 lead.
"We just had a tough start in that third quarter,'' Charlotte center Tyson Chandler said.
"They just came out with more energy than us. That is the time where the game was decided."
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they can't seem to enjoy prosperity. In the final minute and 20 seconds, Noah missed a pair of free throws, Deng missed a pair of free throws, and Salmons missed one, giving the Bobcats a chance to chase the victory. On the other end, Raymond Felton missed a jumper and a layup, and Tyson Chandler, the former Bull, missed a put-back dunk. In the final 10 seconds, Flip Murray missed a pair of 3-pointers.
The game featured two of the three-worst shooting teams in the league, and Charlotte kept up its end of the lousy bargain, shooting 39.5 percent for the game and just under 30 percent (13 for 44) in the second half.
The Bulls had not shot better than 43 percent in any game prior to Saturday, but thanks to Noah's 10-for-12 performance, they shot 50 percent (38 for 76) against the Bobcats. They entered the game as one of the top 10 teams in the league in offensive rebounds and had 15 more Saturday. Noah had six of them himself.
"I've been impressed by Jo this season,'' Salmons said."He gave us 21 points tonight and that's like, extra. It's all the other stuff he does for us. He has been one of those glue guys. One of those guys that once you have him, it's hard to play without him." Brown complained that the Bobcats were unable to get to the free throw line in the second half, but the visitors actually had 11 free throws to just nine for the home team in the third and fourth quarters.
"If we play as we did for most of this game we will win on the road,'' Chandler said.