April 7, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Marco Belinelli (8) is guarded by Detroit Pistons small forward Khris Middleton (32) in the second quarter at The Palace. (Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli Return for Chicago Bulls; Suffer 99-85 Loss

After two-straight games with an entire lineup out due to injuries, the Chicago Bulls were able to get Joakim Noah and Marco Belinelli back for limited minutes. But with a season plagued with injuries, it seemed inevitable that another player went down. Luol Deng sat out with a bruised right hip as the Bulls suffered an 85-99 loss to the Detroit Pistons, ending the 18-game winning streak Chicago had on Detroit.

Chicago went with a small lineup of  Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich (playing through an illness), Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah to start off. Despite losing the opening tip, the Bulls got off to a fantastic start. Noah opened the game with a block while Hinrich fed Robinson for a three on the other end. Chicago got their offense going early, moving the ball well, and making the shots. Before heading to the bench, Noah made his impact known with a +10 in his 7:18 minutes of playing time, and the Bulls had a lead as large as 11 points.

After Noah’s departure, the Pistons were able to catch up with the Bulls making enough shots to pull within three at the end of the first quarter, 26-23. Detroit continued their offensive efficiency in the second quarter scoring 12 points off of threes. Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, and Brandon Knight were all large factors in the Pistons’ run to take the lead, but the Bulls were able to produce enough offense to trail by only four at halftime, 46-50.

The third quarter was more of the same for both teams. The Bulls were able to score, but they were never able to produce enough to catch up, and they were never able to get stops defensively. Knight continued to collect points scoring 12 of Detroit’s 25 points.

Jerebko and Villanueva did more work in the fourth quarter, making shots to solidify a win for their team while the Bulls had a horrible quarter offensively finishing with 18 total fourth quarter points. They settled for jump shots far too often instead of trying to get to the free throw line after Detroit went over their foul limit early on. The game ended with a Malcolm Thomas dunk off of a lob from Marquis Teague as the Bulls went on to achieve a record of 42-34.

Boozer posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago while Detroit’s bench paved way for the win with a combined 43 points. The Bulls bench? A total of 12 points, 4 of which came from Malcolm Thomas in his 1:11 minutes of action.

With the playoffs nearing, Chicago will have to step up their overall game and find ways to succeed to finish off the regular season strong. They will have some time to regather themselves before their next game on Tuesday, as they head to Canada to face the Toronto Raptors at 7 PM CT.

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Tags: Chicago Bulls Detroit Pistons

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