Belinelli makes shot after Noah’s hustle play in Bulls’ comeback win
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2013 10:43PM
Bulls center Joakim Noah grabs one of his 18 rebounds in the fourth quarter. The Chicago Bulls came back to defeat the Detroit Pistons 85-82 Wednesday January 23, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 25, 2013 1:03PM
Joakim Noah was lying among the Luvabulls and their pompons while the rest of his teammates were celebrating the play that broke Detroit’s back.
And he wasn’t there for a second or two, either. It took a good amount of time before he was given a helping hand and lifted from the wreckage of cheerleaders and cameramen. Even better, he came out of the pileup with yet another dramatic hustle play to add to his résumé.
“Incredible,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah’s hustle after the Bulls’ 85-82 victory Wednesday at the United Center. “Quite frankly, I don’t know how he got to it. That’s big-time stuff.’’
So was overcoming a 17-point third-quarter deficit and keeping their dominance over the Pistons alive at 17 victories in a row.
But it was all about Noah, with his 10 points and 18 rebounds almost an afterthought.
With the game tied at 82, Marco Belinelli missed a long-range jumper. The ball was tipped toward the baseline and was headed out of bounds. Noah charged after it, dived and flicked the ball back in play before hitting the floor.
The ball went right to a streaking Belinelli, who made the layup and drew the foul. He completed the three-point play to all but put the Pistons on ice.
Detroit had two chances at game-tying three-pointers but missed both and lost another heartbreaker to their division rivals.
“I stayed with the play, the basketball gods were on my side, got a little lucky,’’ Noah said.
“It’s not really a great play because if Detroit gets it, it’s a five-on-four fast break for the other side, but I kept it in play. Fortunately, Marco got it.
“I didn’t really see the play. I had the cheerleaders’ pompons in my face.’’
Not necessarily a bad thing, but it would’ve been nice if his teammates had helped him up a little sooner.
“Our best play,’’ Nate Robinson said. “The funny thing about it is we’re over there celebrating, and he’s over there by the cheerleaders. We were like, ‘Oh, yeah, we got to get over there and help him up.’ ’’
The Pistons sure weren’t going to offer a hand to Noah, who has been a Pistons Killer the last few years. Earlier this season, Noah scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to help the Bulls (25-16) overcome another 17-point deficit.
“We didn’t play our best, but we found a way to win in the end,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s the kind of stuff you have to do.
‘‘In the end, we had a lot of guys step up and make big plays for us.’’
Noah was on that list, of course, but also Robinson, who rattled off nine points in the fourth quarter.
“That’s Nate,’’ Thibodeau said. “He made a lot of big-time plays for us. He’s not afraid, and I like that about him, respect that about him.
‘‘But he also needs to improve because our road is only going to get tougher.’’
Jimmy Butler made a huge three-pointer with 1:51 left to give the Bulls an 82-80 lead.