Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/4/12
CHICAGO -- New Orleans may not have a reputation for being a hard-nosed, physical team. But the Hornets went into Chicago on Saturday and beat one of the league's better defensive squads at its own game. New Orleans limited the Bulls to 33 percent shooting and pulled off a surprising 89-82 victory over Chicago at the United Center. "We don't get a lot of credit or notoriety for being a physical team, but that's something we've prided ourselves on since I've been here," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "I don't think we outworked them. I think the ball came our way a few times. It was just a major battle in that paint." New Orleans played without No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, who suffered a concussion in Friday's win over Utah, and shooting guard Eric Gordon, who will miss several weeks with a knee injury. This was a physical, defensive contest throughout. The Hornets built a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter and the Bulls had trouble stringing together any baskets. Chicago struggled to convert fast breaks and was ice cold from the outside. In the fourth quarter, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau left starters Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer on the bench. They shot a combined 4-for-26 from the field during the first three quarters. "The thing about the shooting, that doesn't bother me," Thibodeau said. "The thing that bothered me was our approach to defensive transition. When you're not shooting well, you can't allow that to sap your energy as far as getting back, setting your defense." Luol Deng led Chicago with 19 points, while guard Nate Robinson added 15. New Orleans big men Jason Smith and Robin Lopez scored 16 points each. Trailing 66-60 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulls closed within four points a number of times, but always hit a wall. After Robinson's jumper made it 81-77 with 1:16 left, Chicago appeared to catch a break when an out-of-bounds call was reversed by replay. But the Bulls couldn't convert, with Marco Belinelli missing a corner 3-pointer and then Taj Gibson was called for a foul on the rebound. Smith knocked down the ensuing free throws and New Orleans led by six with 53.5 seconds on the clock. Robinson missed a runner and Roger Mason Jr. added a pair at the line to put the visitors in control 85-77. "Coach stressed to us this would be a tough, physical game," Smith said. "This is a tough environment to play in. The big key for us tonight was playing our defense. You know you are doing a good job when you can hold a team like this to 82 points. We really played a great game." After rolling over Cleveland on Friday, the Bulls had trouble getting started against New Orleans. The Hornets jumped to leads of 10-2 and 16-6. "You've got everybody telling you how good you are and praising you, you get knocked on your tail," Gibson said. "That's one thing about this league; you can't get comfortable at any time in any game, because there's always somebody looking to knock you down." Belinelli helped give Chicago some life, contributing a 3-point play, a fast-break dunk and a 3-point basket to tie the game at 18-18. The Bulls opened a six-point advantage late in the second quarter, before Vasquez drained 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give New Orleans a 46-44 lead at halftime. NOTES: New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis didn't make the trip to his hometown because of a concussion suffered in Friday's win over Utah. Davis was inadvertently elbowed by teammate Austin Rivers and sat out the second half. Before Saturday's game, Hornets coach Monty Williams complained about the league-mandated concussion guidelines. "He got touched up a little bit last night," Williams said. "I'm sure that happens a lot in basketball; it's just that now they treat everybody like they have on white gloves and pink drawers. It's getting old, but it's just the way the league is now." ... The Hornets' other rookie, guard Austin Rivers, called injured Bulls guard Derrick Rose his favorite player and said he tried to watch every Bulls game on television while he was at Duke last season. ... By beating Cleveland on Friday, the Bulls started 2-0 for the first time since 2002-03. They haven't started 3-0 since 1996.
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