Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/15/12
AUBURN HILLS For one night, the Pistons and the Bulls were rivals again. It didn't have the meaning of the Bad Boys against Michael Jordan the Pistons are playing out the string in a lost season but it still was Chicago vs. Detroit in a hard-fought Sunday game that took overtime to decide. Luckily for the Bulls and their hopes for the East's top seed, they came out on top in a 100-94 decision. "We struggled for most of the game, but in the end, we just found a way to win it," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We weren't as sharp offensively as we'd like to be, but our defense was pretty good and our rebounding was outstanding." The Pistons should have had the game won in regulation, but Rodney Stuckey could hit only two of four free throws in the final 16 seconds. The second miss was rebounded by Joakim Noah with 13.5 seconds left and the Bulls down by three. Chicago was out of timeouts, but Noah got the ball to Derrick Rose and then set a perfect screen on Ben Gordon. Gordon wasn't able to foul Rose, who drained a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. "We wanted to foul, but it was a missed free throw and Derrick had a head of steam going," Gordon said. "Joakim laid a hell of a screen on me, and I just couldn't get there before Derrick hit the 3-point line." Rose (24 points, 9 assists) didn't score in overtime, but Noah had four points and, more importantly, four offensive rebounds as Chicago outscored Detroit 14-8. "Derrick hit that huge shot at the end of the game, and gave us life," Noah said. "Once we got it into overtime, we felt like it was our game." Noah finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds, 13 on the offensive end. "I just felt like we were moving the ball a lot, which made it easier to get offensive rebounds," he said. "I just kept crashing." Pistons coach Lawrence Frank thought that Rose had a lot to do with Noah's dominance on the offensive glass. "There's a cause-and-effect with Noah and Rose," he said. "Rose puts your defense under so much pressure with his ability to get to the basket that your 5 has to help out, and that creates space for Noah to get to the boards." It wasn't the first time this season that the Pistons had a chance to beat a top team only to see it slip away in the final moments. "We did everything we needed to win this game other than actually winning the game," Frank said. "The thing is, Chicago plays like this every night and we don't. That's the difference in this league, and that's one of the reasons we're not a playoff team." CHARLIE V. GETS SOME RUN Frank has talked about experimenting with his rotation down the stretch, and he started that on Saturday by using Charlie Villanueva instead of Jonas Jerebko as Detroit's backup power forward. When Villanueva checked into the game with 56 seconds left in the opening period, it was the first time he had played in a first quarter this season. Villanueva scored 13 points he came into the game with only 17 all season but went 1 for 6 in the second half. "We're only averaging 74 points a game against Chicago and we've had second or fourth quarters of nine, 10 and 13 points against them," Frank said. "We wanted to see if we could keep our defense together and use Charlie to stretch the floor." Villanueva's most important second-half contribution came in a negative sense. With 4:31 to play, he was called for a flagrant foul for hitting Rose across the nose on a layup attempt, and then got a technical for trash talking. The Bulls ended up with a four-point possession and a 77-76 lead. Rose and the officials didn't think Villanueva went for the ball, but he disagreed. "I definitely was trying for the ball, and I certainly didn't intend to hit him in the face," he said. "He said something to me, and I said something back all heat-of-the-moment stuff but I got the technical." Frank said he will continue to fiddle with his rotation, saying that Jerebko would get some time at small forward and that little-used rookie Vernon Macklin would get some action.
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