USA TODAY Sports
The Bulls start slow but have a dominating 4th quarter.
All Thibsball does is win. The Pistons are not terrible and things started out as a relative letdown, but it was yet another victory with multiple players stepping up into larger roles. The Bulls had a 28-14 advantage in the 4th quarter, and they erased an 11-point deficit in just over 4 minutes behind a crazy Nate Robinson run. Robinson had the rare similarly-sized matchup with Will Bynum, and though perhaps the first half stint went to his opponent, Nate turned it on in that 4th quarter. It was an especially sorely needed performance on a night where Kirk Hinrich was godawful, not only with anemic production overall but two viscerally unwatchably botched end-of-quarter possessions.
The Pistons soon found themselves down 6 in that final period but rallied to re-take the lead late. Though neither team had a true go-to option, the Bulls wound up with just enough clutch plays to take the win. The score was tied for a final possession when Marco Belinelli badly missed an attempt only to see Joakim Noah dive out of bounds to save it to Marco as he came to the basket, scoring and getting fouled on the play. It was very similar to the overtime win in Boston where Belinelli botched a play only to totally redeem himself. It was also emblematic of the play Joakim Noah provides even though his shooting continues to regress (3-8 tonight) as he still provided 18 rebounds.
Prior to that play, Jimmy Butler hit a huge three-pointer, culminating his recovery from what was a poor shooting start to really impact that second half run. Butler played 46 minutes in yet another Deng-esque effort as Luol missed his 3rd straight game. Even when his shots weren't falling early, Butler was essential in getting the Bulls to the free-throw line, going 5-6 himself and getting the Pistons in the penalty early and often and finishing with a game-high 18. The Bulls had 12 more FTAs than Detroit in the game. That, plus offensive rebounding (36% Offensive Rebound rate), co-led by Butler's 5, which has become a consistent way for them to beat Detroit for now the 17th time in a row. It is truly amazing how Butler can so aggressively go for offensive rebounds and tip-ins, yet still nearly always get back on defense as well. And for nearly the entire game. That's the kind of data the Bulls scouting super-computer ("Gritcom 7000 - featuring politeness-quotient add-ons") must churn out on the regular when finding guys like him.
For the Pistons, they had a pretty good night on the offensive glass as well, and for 3 quarters anyway did a solid job staying in front of the Bulls. While Chicago struggled to execute and often over-passed their way into turnovers, the Pistons went small often and were able to consistently drive the lane and either finish or start throwing lobs to Andre Drummond (a guy who I can see why Pistons fans wish played more...though he was part of the disastrous start to the fourth).
But the 4th was a disaster for Detroit, by my count going 2-14 with 3 turnovers to put them in that hole for the final 4 and a half minutes. Once again Thibs went with replacements for Boozer and Hamilton, though both had productive offensive nights. Gibson was also key in that 4th quarter run, with 6 straight points followed by a Jimmy jumper. By then the stage was set, the UC was alive, I was muting an increasingly insufferable Neil and Stacey, and all was right again on the way to another Bulls win.