Bulls cruise behind Noah's triple-double
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Center Joakim Noah got hot in the fourth quarter, and the Chicago Bulls followed his lead. The result was Noah's second triple-double in three games and the Bulls' 10th win in 12 games.
Guard D.J. Augustin scored 26 points off the bench, and Noah had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, leading Chicago to a 105-94 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at The Palace.
Noah actually had a quiet night until the fourth, when the Bulls outscored Detroit 34-24. He piled up eight points, five assists and three rebounds during the quarter to collect his sixth career triple-double, but his second in three games. He had 13 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds on Sunday against the New York Knicks.
"He's been on an incredible roll for a long time," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The Brooklyn game (a 96-80 loss on Monday) was his first down game. He was patient tonight. He wasn't really struggling, but he wasn't in a rhythm like he normally is. He just kept working the game, and that's where his experience comes in. He sizes things up, keeps working, and all of a sudden he'll get four or five rebounds in a row."
Noah's playmaking skills is an increasingly valuable part of the Bulls' offense. He has five double-digit assist games since Feb. 6 after recording just two in 442 career games prior to this season.
"That's why, if you look at all of our games, we just give him the ball up top," Chicago forward Taj Gibson said. "He's unselfish, he'll take guys off the dribble and just find guys in every kind of fashion. He showed that tonight again. He's always finding different ways to help us win."
Gibson contributed 22 points and shooting guard Jimmy Butler supplied his fourth double-double this season with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls (34-27). Butler also was primarily responsible for hounding Pistons forward Josh Smith into a 6-for-21 shooting performance.
Power forward Greg Monroe's 27 points led the Pistons, who lost for the fifth time in six games. Guard Kyle Singler chipped in 16 points, while Smith and center Andre Drummond added 15 points apiece for Detroit (24-37).
"Their intensity picked up, and our attention to detail and getting good shots went down," Pistons interim head coach John Loyer said. "They made a few shots at the end of the shot clock. We win the first and third quarters, but we gave up 34 in the fourth. It's just not winning basketball."
The teams split their first two meetings, each winning by a lopsided margin on the road. The visitors were once again the stronger team as Wednesday's game wore on.
Augustin opened the fourth quarter with a personal 7-0 run to give the Bulls an eight-point lead. Butler's steal and dunk with 8:24 remaining made it 82-72. Augustin's 3-pointer from the top of the key extended the lead to 89-74, and the Pistons trailed by at least nine the rest of the game.
"They're a great defensive team," Drummond said. "They made it tough for us to get into our stuff."
Augustin and Gibson, the Bulls' top bench players, combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter as Thibodeau rode them.
"We talked about how we want to finish games," Thibodeau said. "Our defense was strong, our ball movement was good, and hitting the first open man made a big difference."
Neither team led by more than six during the third quarter, which ended with Chicago up 71-70. The Pistons had an 8-0 run midway through the quarter, but the Bulls answered with seven straight points, capped by a Hinrich 3-pointer. Monroe scored eight points during the quarter, while Butler led the Bulls with six.
Gibson's 16 first-half points lifted the Bulls to a 52-47 halftime lead.
NOTES: The Bulls won for the 20th time in 22 meetings. The two teams play once more this season, April 11 at the United Center in Chicago. ... C Andre Drummond had at least 15 points and 17 rebounds in Detroit's previous three games, becoming the first Piston to do that since Dennis Rodman in December 1991. ... Pistons G Rodney Stuckey's 13.8 points per game are an NBA high among players who have come off the bench at least 49 games. ... Chicago's 22 victories since New Year's Day are the most in the league. ... The Bulls' Joakim Noah is on pace to become the first center to lead his team in total assists since San Antonio's David Robinson in 1993-94. Noah has 281 in Chicago's first 61 games. ... Pistons G Chauncey Billups and C Josh Harrellson were inactive because of knee injuries, and G Peyton Siva was unavailable because a left ankle sprain.