Noah, Belinelli cement Bulls comeback win against Pistons

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Marco Belinelli shot a brick on his first attempt at a go-ahead basket in the closing seconds, but he got a second chance when Bulls teammate Joakim Noah somehow kept the rebound from going out of bounds.
Belinelli caught the ball off Noah's save, hit a driving layup and completed a three-point play with 7.5 seconds remaining to provide the winning points in the Chicago Bulls' 85-82 comeback victory over Detroit at the United Center on Wednesday.
Chicago won its 17th straight game against the Pistons and 13th in a row at home.
"Quite frankly, I don't know how he got to it," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah's save. "It was an incredible play. Then Marco making the shot and the free throw, that's big-time stuff."
Noah ended up sitting against the baseline press table, between a couple of cheerleaders, after flying out of bounds. It turned out to be his 18th rebound of the night, to go with 10 points.
"The basketball gods were on our side; got a little lucky," Noah said. "I think it's not really a great play, because if Detroit gets it, it's a four-on-five fastbreak on the other side. But I kept it in play, fortunately we got it. I didn't really see it. I had like cheerleaders' pompons in my face."
A couple of Pistons closest to the play stopped and pointed at the end line while Belinelli went in for the layup. Replays appeared to show that Noah's foot and the ball on its way to Belinelli's hands landed inbounds, but only by an inch or two.
"To me, it looked like the ball went out of bounds. It's hard to say," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "It just looked like the ball was out of bounds. At the heat of the moment, you're upset. I haven't seen it. But we put ourselves in that position."
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 18 points, while Carlos Boozer added 16 points and Taj Gibson had 14.
Trailing by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Bulls mounted a rally in the fourth. Point guard Nate Robinson was the spark, scoring nine straight points, including a 3-pointer that brought Chicago within 70-69 with 8:58 remaining.
After Detroit's Greg Monroe split a pair of free throws, Robinson found Noah under the basket for a dunk that tied the score.
The teams traded baskets before Gibson tipped in a Robinson miss, giving the Bulls their first lead of the night since they were up 2-0. Gibson and Butler each knocked down baseline jumpers to complete a 19-3 run and send Chicago ahead 79-73 with 4:21 left.
Detroit responded with seven straight points. Rodney Stuckey drained a corner jumper, Tayshaun Prince hit a 3-pointer and Stuckey hit a 15-foot pull-up jumper to put the Pistons back up 80-79 with 2:07 remaining.
Butler nailed a corner 3-pointer on the next trip to give the Bulls an 82-80 edge. Detroit tied it when the Bulls lost track of Jason Maxiell, who caught a pass from Stuckey and finished an open lay-in with 29.4 seconds on the clock.
After Belinelli's 3-point play, Prince and Stuckey missed 3-point shots that could have tied the score. Brandon Knight led Detroit with 13 points, while Kyle Singler scored 12.
This was the second time this season the Bulls rallied from 17 points down to beat Detroit.
"The last two or three times we played them we had leads through three quarters," Prince said. "We should have had wins. We talked about that before tonight's game. You need to match the energy that Joakim and Taj give them or they are going to come back on you."
The Pistons came into this one with nine wins in their last 13 games and quickly showed what the improvement is all about. Chicago shot 27.3 percent from the field in the first quarter, while Detroit built a 23-14 advantage.
Leading 47-38 at halftime, the Pistons opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run. On one possession, Singler scored on a fast-break lay-in and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Monroe grabbed the offensive rebound, followed it in and also was fouled. Monroe couldn't finish off the potential five-point possession, but Knight's driving lay-in a few seconds later made it 55-38 with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
NOTES: Chicago forward Luol Deng missed his third straight game with a right hamstring strain. He said he's feeling better, but it's unclear when he will return to game action. ... Heading into Wednesday's contest, Detroit was 9-4 since Dec. 21, with victories over Miami, Atlanta, Boston and Milwaukee (twice). Two of the losses in that stretch came in overtime and the only game that wasn't competitive was the loss to New York in London last week. ... The Bulls' 17-game winning streak in the series is their second-longest against Detroit. They won 19 in a row in the mid-1990s. ... When Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich hit 9 of 11 shots for 22 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, it was the first time in his career he shot 80 percent from the field with at least 10 field-goal attempts.

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