As the 13-28 road record suggests, the Bulls have had trouble winning away from the United Center this season. But they showed some toughness Monday night by rallying for a 91-88 win over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The Bulls trailed by as many as 11 points in the third quarter and were down 88-85 going into the final minute. No matter. A 3-point play by Derrick Rose (team-high 24 points) with 42 seconds left, followed by a Ben Gordon bucket with 14 seconds remaining gave the Bulls the winning points.
Detroit managed just 13 points in the fourth quarter and 32 points in the entire second half. That's the kind of defensive effort the Bulls will need in the playoffs, and that's something that has been lacking for most of the season.
This win was important for the Bulls because it ensures that they will finish no worse than seventh in the Eastern Conference. That means they'll avoid top-seeded Cleveland in the first round.
The Bulls first opponent will be either the defending champion Boston Celtics or the Orlando Magic. The Bulls (41-40) sit sixth in the East, one win better than the Philadelphia 76ers (40-40). If the Bulls hold their ground, they will open at Orlando. If they slip behind Philadelphia, they head to Boston.
The Sixers host the Celtics Tuesday night and play at Cleveland on Wednesday. The Bulls conclude the season Wednesday at the UC against the Toronto Raptors.