DJ Augustin had 24 points, including 12 in the 4th quarter, as the Bulls rebounded from a horrific first half to down the Detroit Pistons 106-98 Friday night at the United Center.
The win not only was the Bulls' 7th in a row, it also put them a game ahead of Toronto for the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The 3rd spot is certainly the place to be if you can't be in the top 2- the #4 seed has to play Brooklyn in the first round, and the Nets have been as hot as any team in the league since the first of the year.
The #3 seed will have a much easier first-round matchup, as they will play either the Wizards or the Bobcats. The Wizards currently have a one game lead in the race for the #6 seed with each team having three more games on the schedule.
And not to look ahead, but the #3 seed will most likely face Indiana in the second round, as the Heat have taken control of the top spot in the East with tonight's blowout win over the Pacers.
The Bulls looked for a while as if they wouldn't even win tonight's game, as the entire team failed to show up for the first half, leading to a 56-38 Detroit lead at the intermission. How bad was it? Detroit center Andre Drummond had 19 rebounds in the first half, and the Bulls had 17.
The second half was a different story, however- the Bulls cut the lead to 10 after 3 quarters, as Dunleavy and Boozer each had 11 points and Hinrich eight. Those 3 veterans took all but 2 of the Bulls 3rd quarter FGA, combining to go 12/20 as the Bulls got back in the game.
The Bulls completely owned the 4th quarter, outscoring the Pistons 36-18. This time it was Augustin (12 points), Gibson (11) and Butler (8) doing most of the scoring, while Noah had 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the period. It was only the Pistons, one of the worst teams in the league, but perhaps the most impressive thing about this game was the Bulls' 2nd half scoring totals:
- Dunleavy 14
- Augustin 12
- Gibson 11
- Boozer 11
- Butler 10
It has to be an incredibly rare occurance for a team to be 27th out of 30 teams in offensive efficiency to have five players score in double figures in a half.
For the game, six Bulls scored in double figures, DJ's 24 being followed by Boozer's 18 and Gibson's 17. Noah only had 6 points, and it cost him back-to-back triple-doubles as he added 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Dunleavy had 14 points, Butler 13 and Hinrich 10, making tonight the 5th time in the last 7 games that the Bulls have had at least six players score in double-figures. For a team that has only averaged 101.7 points per game over that span, that is just almost unheard of.
A few other notes from the game:
Noah became the 9th player in NBA history with at least 400 assists and 100 blocked shots in a season. The others: Kevin Garnett (6 times), Sam Lacey (3), Kareem (twice), Alex English, Alvan Adams, Dwyane Wade, and of course MJ and Pip.
The Bulls have 35 wins since the first of the year, the most in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls' 7-game winning streak is their longest of the season. Portland's 3-game winning streak is the next longest in the entire league.
The Bulls' 4-game road winning streak is the longest in the East, and only Dallas (6) has a longer such streak.
The Bulls' 9-1 record over their last 10 games is the best in the NBA.
The Bulls' 8-2 record in their last 10 road games is the best in the East, matched only by the Spurs and Clippers in the entire league.
The Bulls clinched home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs when the Nets lost at home to Atlanta.
I've heard rumors that many of my fellow Bulls fans have grown tired of the message board they have been members of for 10 years or more, because even though this year's team has shown once again that the Bulls front office obviously knows what kind of players to sign and draft (and what kind of players not to re-sign or draft), their loving home has become overrun with clueless fans who rip on the front office with complete ignorance. Led by the majority of the moderators, who usually set the tone for an internet community.
But don't worry, fellow message board junkies- slowly but surely we are building up the Bullsville Message Board, where intelligent fans who realize how lucky we are to have such great ownership and management can discuss how the Bulls lost their superstar and their 2nd leading scorer- but they still have enough talented players and coaches to be the best team in the NBA since January 1st. I hope you'll join us, the board isn't really moderated as we believe that people are adults and for the most part should be allowed to say whatever they want.