Bulls guard Marco Belinelli scores with 7+ seconds remaining in the game and sinks a foul shot to give the Chicago Bulls an 85-82 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday January 23, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:56PM
CHICAGO — There was no historic performance by Joakim Noah.
No Ben Wallace sitting courtside, acting like Tony Robbins and motivating him.
So, in that way, Pistons coach Lawrence Frank accomplished goal No. 1: Stop Noah.
Not that Noah played poorly in the Bulls’ 85-82 comeback victory Wednesday, but it wasn’t even close to his last game against Detroit when he scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 23 rebounds with Wallace sitting courtside, cheering on both of his former teams.
“Oh, (Noah has) been unbelievable,’’ Frank said. “I mean his numbers haven’t been All-Star-worthy but Hall of Fame-worthy. I mean 30 and 23? Then I read his comment about how he saw Ben Wallace in the building and that motivated him? Ben, get out of the building. Put on a uniform or watch on TV if you’re going to motivate guys to do that.
“Last year, I think he put together a (20-point, 17-rebound) game (in Detroit). Look, Noah is a hell of a player because he plays with so much effort. He’s got an unbelievable motor, and if you’re not going to hit him first and keep on hitting him, he’ll wear you down.’’
Noah did just that, but Frank could’ve said that about a number of Bulls. Then again, it takes a group effort to overcome a 17-point deficit. The Pistons were up 55-38 with 10:23 left in the third quarter.
That noise they started to hear about then was the bottom dropping out.
Led by nine points from Richard Hamilton in the third quarter, the Bulls cut the deficit to 68-57.
Going with Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and, of course, Noah throughout most of the fourth quarter, the Bulls outscored the Pistons 22-7 in the first 11 minutes with a Noah dunk at the 7:52 mark finally tying the game back up.
The Pistons took a one-point lead with about two minutes left, but Butler answered with a huge three-pointer from the corner to give the Bulls an 82-80 lead.
Jason Maxiell scored inside with 29.4 seconds left to tie the game up, leaving the Bulls in the all-too-familiar position of needing late-game heroics. Noah took the honors.
After a Belinelli miss, Noah made an unbelievable save, diving into the crowd and flinging the ball back in play to a streaking Belinelli. Not only did Belinelli score, but he drew the foul to give the Bulls a three-point lead with 7.5 seconds left.
“I scored, but Joakim did everything for us on that play,’’ Belinelli said. “That was a big win for us.’’
And a bigger loss for a Pistons team that has lost 17 in a row to the Bulls.
Noah finished with only 10 points but had 18 rebounds and the hustle play of the game.
Rodney Stuckey’s shot at the horn fell short for the Pistons.
“We’ve said this numerous times: Noah gets those points without his number ever being called,’’ Frank said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for his game.’’