The Chicago Bulls under Tom Thibodeau are known for their insistence on out-hustling and out-working their opponents night in and night out. Never was this more apparent than in the fourth quarter of last night's game against the Detroit Pistons.
Through three quarters, the game appeared to be a semi-rare Bulls' dud. They trailed by as many as 17 and were down 11 as the fourth quarter started. Then Nate Robinson exploded.
Nate scored or assisted on 13 consecutive Bulls points, including a personal 9-0 run that cut the Pistons' lead from 70-60 to 70-69, capped off with a pull-up three in transition that he had no business taking but made anyway. (As good as Nate was, the highlight of that stretch was still this dunk by Jimmy Butler in transition.)
Down the stretch, however, that hustle manifested itself in a mildly ridiculous way. With the game tied at 82, Marco Belinelli took a baseline jumper with his foot on the three-point line and missed it badly. The ball appeared to be headed out of bounds, but Joakim Noah came out of nowhere to save it. Belinelli picked it up, scored and got fouled to seal the game.
On another note, please shut up, Stacey King. Thanks.
Noah had a solid game overall, putting up 18 boards to help make up for going 3/8 from the field and 4/8 from the free throw line. He also helped hold Greg Monroe to 9 points and 8 rebounds on 4/13 shooting, even if Andre Drummond kept throwing down dunks all over the place. Jimmy Butler had another excellent game filling in for Luol Deng, matching his career high with 18 points and posting a new career high with 9 rebounds. He struggled early on, starting just 1/8, but finished by making 5 of his last 6 shots, including a huge three from the corner to give the Bulls the lead in the final minute.
The Bulls really need to stop this whole "fall behind early, look dead for most of the game before coming back" thing, but hey, a win's a win.
Player o' the Game: Jimmy Butler (18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists)
What, you thought it would be someone else? Bulls 101's love affair with Jimmy Butler is well-documented, and Jimmy had another solid game. When he struggled shooting, he compensated by getting to the line and crashing the boards. His effort is off the charts at all times, even when the game is on the line and he's already played 45 minutes. He's been fantastic as Deng recovers.
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