It wasnt prettysince when was that a prerequisite for this team to win a game?but a combination of suffocating defense and a strong performance from the frontcourt propelled the Bulls to an 83-71 win over the Pistons at the United Center Friday night.
In yet another game in which they were short-handedstarting shooting guard Rip Hamilton was apparently a late scratchthe Bulls used their trademarks, offensive balance and stingy defense, to bludgeon an inferior opponent and their Central Division rival.
A balanced Pistons (18-33) attack, helmed by rookie point guard Brandon Knight (16 points), put the Bulls in an early hole in the opening period.
For the hosts, Carlos Boozer (13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists) was an active force from the outset, finishing with bounce and power, as well as attacking the boards alongside Joakim Noah (19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists).
The typical, unselfish brand of offense the Bulls (42-11) are accustomed to playing quickly made it a close-knit affair, subsequently followed by the deficit being completely erased.
By virtue of solid play from all five startersthe perimeter trio of All-Star Luol Deng (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and backcourt partners C.J. Watson (11 points, five assists) and Ronnie Brewer were also strong contributorsthe first quarter ended with the Bulls holding a 28-25 advantage.
The hot shooting of both teams tailed off dramatically in the second stanza, as a combination of good defense and bad offense prevailed. However, the Bulls maintained their lead, as Deng helped hold things together with the Bench Mob and the Pistons struggled to score, with the exception of veteran Tayshaun Prince (14 points, six rebounds).
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau eventually reinserted the bulk of his regulars and Noah provided a spark, aiding the Bulls in holding on to the breathing room they had obtained.
At the intermission, the Bulls were up, 44-35.
Deng excelled after the break, scoring by attacking the basket, but also proving his value as a elite-level defender and all-around talent. Noah also chipped in, giving the Bulls a scoring presence, in addition to his usual work on the glass and defensive end, all of which helped the Bulls keep some distance between themselves and their guests.
But the skilled play of much-improved second-year big man Greg Monroe (14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) helped the Pistons gradually climb back into the contest, something aided by the Bulls issues with ball security.
Still, through three periods of play, the Bulls led, 65-61.
A strong effort from Taj Gibson propelled a Bulls run that yielded a double-digit advantage for the hosts, again putting them comfortably in front of the visitors.
However, the Pistons werent through and with the likes of Knight and versatile backup forward Jonas Jerebko providing a boost of energy, Detroit was once again right on the heels of the home team.
The visitors comeback was aborted, however, as timely plays from Boozer and Noah extended the Bulls lead as the game entered its stretch run and with under a minute remaining, a thunderous Noah dunk over Pistons veteran Jason Maxiell sealed the deal.
With yet another home win under their belt, the Bulls now look ahead to Sundays marquee matchup against the Western Conference-leading Thunder in Oklahoma City.