NBA Game Summary - Detroit at Chicago
(Thursday, March 29th)
Final Score: Chicago 83, Detroit 81
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Kirk Hinrich nailed two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, as the Bulls overcame blowing a 12-point lead in the final quarter to beat the shorthanded Detroit Pistons, 83-81, to tighten the race in the Central Division.
Ben Gordon had 25 points for Chicago, which won for the eighth time in 10 contests to officially clinch a playoff spot. Luol Deng added 16 points and Ben Wallace was a force in the middle with 19 rebounds against his former team.
"It was definitely a lot closer than it needed to be," Gordon said. "We had to rely on our offensive rebounding and second chance points. It's usually the other team that wins those kind of games, especially a great team like Detroit."
The Bulls remained in third place in the division, but moved within three games behind first-place Detroit and just a half-game back of Cleveland for second.
Chicago won at home over Detroit for just the second time in the last 14 meetings.
"At the beginning of the year we had a lot of blowouts," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "Now, these close games pile up and we have to look back on this stretch of close games and realize we have a legitimate chance to control what we do."
Detroit played without guard Richard Hamilton and forward Chris Webber, both of whom were out with the flu. Hamilton sat out his third consecutive game, while Webber was sent home and missed his second straight contest.
Tayshaun Prince scored 26 points for the Pistons, who had a two-game winning streak broken.
Chauncey Billups, who was limited to 12 points on 3-of-16 shooting for Detroit, drove the lane for a layup with 48.1 seconds left to bring the Pistons within 81-79.
Tyrus Thomas then lost the ball along the right baseline, and the Pistons tied the game. Carlos Delfino missed a jumper, but the ball deflected to Prince in the lane, and he converted the shot with 9.8 seconds remaining.
Hinrich then faked a shot, ducked under the defense before being fouled by Delfino while trying a three from the top of the circle. Hinrich missed the first attempt, but made the final two tries.
"I felt like they were flying at me," Hinrich said. "I was a little bit off balance, but they got me. It's a feel thing. Any time in the game when someone flies at you, you'll give a little head fake and see what happens."
Out of a timeout, Prince missed the potential tying jumper under heavy pressure from Deng, as the Bulls held on for their fourth straight win.
"Delfino is a young player who loses concentration sometimes," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "His mistake was not because of a lack of effort. Then the last shot, all I wanted was for it to go in. Seriously, Tayshaun had the ball and they were holding onto his left hand, which they hadn't done all night, which allowed him to get free. Deng hung on him and didn't let up at the end."
Thomas ended with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Hinrich scored 15 and had eight assists.
Rasheed Wallace had 19 points for the Pistons, who shot 41.3 percent from the field.
The Bulls led 25-17 after one quarter before Detroit surged to a 41-38 lead at the half. It was 61-60 in favor of the road team going into the fourth.
Deng's jam extended Chicago's cushion to 79-67 with just under four minutes left, but despite the large deficit and without two of their best players, the Pistons came back.
Prince made two free throws, and Rasheed Wallace nailed a three. Delfino drilled another shot from beyond the arc to get Detroit within four with 2:09 left.
Thomas then jammed off a pass from Deng, but the Bulls then fell apart in the last 1:50.
Gordon missed two foul shots, and two from Prince at the charity stripe had Detroit within 81-77 with 1:29 left.
Rasheed Wallace picked up his 19th technical foul of the season with 6:45 left in the third quarter. One more technical will result in another automatic one- game suspension...Antonio McDyess had 10 rebounds for Detroit, which was outrebounded the Bulls, 51-37...The Bulls host the Cavaliers Saturday afternoon, while the Pistons next host New Jersey on Friday...The Bulls beat the Pistons for just the fourth time in the last 20 meetings.
03/29 23:57:57 ET