Bulls 95, Pistons 94

Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls relied on their hustle to

keep their streak alive against the Detroit Pistons.

Luol Deng scored 28 points, Butler and Nate Robinson each added

16, and the Bulls beat Detroit 95-94 to extend their winning streak

to 18 straight against the Pistons.

The Bulls rallied from a 13-point deficit to tie the score

78-all with 9:27 remaining on Butler’s dunk after a steal. Robinson

then fed Deng for a layup and an 80-78 lead, Chicago’s first

advantage since 1-0.

The Bulls came up with four of their 10 steals in the fourth

quarter, including three by Butler.

”We dodged a bullet,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”We

were fortunate, got out of a hole. … We were just trying to find

a way in the end. I thought it was the hustle plays.”

Rodney Stuckey scored 25 points and Greg Monroe added 18 points

for the Pistons, who have not beaten Chicago since Dec. 23,

2008.

Deng and Robinson each hit 3-pointers to extend the Bulls’ lead

to 91-84. Stuckey’s layup cut Chicago’s lead to one with 1:27 left

before Deng had a layup for a 94-91 lead. Charlie Villaneuva missed

a 3 with 5.9 seconds left and Daequan Cook made a free throw.

Stuckey made a 3 before the buzzer for the final margin.

Butler bounced back from a disappointing game after he scored

four points on 1-of-8 shooting in Saturday’s 100-98 loss to

Dallas.

”It was tough. After 2 to 3 hours of sleep, I got here super

early to shoot some free throws and some jumpers,” Butler said.

”I don’t want to play like that. Nobody wants to play like

that.”

Chicago also rallied from 17-point deficits in each of its two

previous games against Detroit this season. The Pistons last

defeated the Bulls at the United Center on Feb. 24, 2006.

”We haven’t won too many against them,” Monroe said. ”You

want to end that streak. But we want to get any win right now

versus any team.”

Detroit shot 50 percent (36 for 72) from the field while the

Bulls shot 40 percent (30 for 76).

”We had some possessions on both ends you’d like to have

back,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ”But if we’ll give

ourselves a chance, it’s a whole different spirit and intent

compared to the way we played against Minnesota and Toronto. We

have eight more opportunities to grow as a group.”

The Pistons jumped out to leads of 9-1 and 18-5, and led 24-20

after the first quarter. Cook hit a 3-pointer and a free throw with

15.5 seconds left before halftime to cut Detroit’s lead to

55-53.

Stuckey made a running jumper with 2.8 seconds left to put the

Pistons up four at the break.

Detroit shot 60 percent from the field in the first half, while

the Bulls were at 43 percent. Stuckey led the Pistons with 16

points and Deng led Chicago with 12.

Chicago also struggled with free throws, missing 13 of 40.

Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson each added 11 points for the Bulls

and Cook finished with 10.

Villanueva had 14 and Jose Calderon added 11 for the Pistons,

who went 1-13 in March.

”We definitely got better as far as not having a big lapse that

pretty much cost us a game,” Monroe said. ”We have to take

tonight – there were a lot of good things even though we lost – and

build up and get ready for Toronto tomorrow.”

Robinson and Pistons forward Kyle Singler each received

technical fouls and Pistons guard Brandon Knight was called for a

flagrant foul with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter after Knight

was called for a travel and raised his arm, hitting Butler in the

face. Robinson then appeared to push Knight, and Singler and other

players joined the fray before the players were separated. Butler

made both free throws to cut Detroit’s lead to 24-15.

Butler said he thought Knight’s contact was unintentional.

Robinson said he’ll stick up for his teammates.

”I got my guy’s back regardless,” Robinson said. ”I’m not

really worried about technical or whatever.”

Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli sat out for the Bulls. Noah has

missed five straight games for plantar fasciitis in his right foot,

and Belinelli has sat out four games with a strained abdominal

muscle. Thibodeau said both players are day to day. Noah had career

highs of 30 points and 23 rebounds against Detroit on Dec. 7.

Will Bynum (hand) and Jason Maxiell (eye) were out for the

Pistons. Maxiell remained in Detroit to get his eye examined.

Chicago went 7-7 in March.

NOTES: The NBA upgraded Gibson’s shooting foul against LeBron

James in the Bulls’ 101-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday

to a flagrant foul, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The victory snapped Miami’s 27-game winning streak, the second

longest in NBA history. ”I guess we have to call the league and

get clarification,” Thibodeau said. ”I didn’t see it that way. I

still don’t have a good understanding of what a flagrant foul is. I

thought I got some clarity last year, but apparently I didn’t.”

… Calderon has a tendon problem in his arm that flared up,

affecting his shooting, Frank said. … Knight returned for the

Pistons from an ankle injury he suffered Friday.