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Nocioni leads Bulls past Pistons

Dec 8, 2007 - 4:40 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Andres Nocioni continues to be a presence off the bench for the Chicago Bulls.

Nocioni scored 22 points and dished five assists as the Bulls posted a 98-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Luol Deng scored 17 points and reserve Chris Duhon had seven of his 12 in the fourth quarter for Chicago, which has won two straight and four of five after beginning the season 2-10.

"I think we're playing with a lot of confidence right now," Nocioni said. "I believe we have started to play like we (can) play. We move the ball, drive to the basket, take the open shot and play hard on defense. We worry about how we need to play and that's it."

The Bulls have also won five of their last six regular-season games against the division-leading Pistons.

"It's definitely disappointing," Pistons forward Antonio McDyess said. "For some reason, they're always up to play us, and we ain't responding like we should. We're just going out there and going through the motions and not having the type of energy we normally have."

Nocioni, who connected on 7-of-14 from the floor, has been a spark for Chicago as it tries to climb to .500. The 28-year-old Argentine reserve has averaged 19.0 points in his last five games and had been a force with his rebounding for the Bulls.

"We had problems guarding Nocioni," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "When it came down to it, we couldn't guard him. We tried to stay big, and he's either taking threes or he's driving around us. We just couldn't contain him at all."

He had averaged 8.3 rebounds in his prior four games before grabbing just three vs. Detroit.

With Chicago leading, 72-71, entering the final quarter, the Bulls withstood a 15-point fourth period effort by Detroit's Chauncey Billups to win the game.

After Nocioni made a three-point play to give the Bulls an 86-80 lead with 5:20 left, Billups cut the Pistons' deficit to three with three minutes remaining. However, Chicago went on an 11-5 run, capped by Nocioni's layup with 44 ticks on the clock to up the lead to 97-88 - icing the game.

"Nothing phases Andres," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "He's just out there playing basketball and has been invaluable so far."

Ben Wallace, who played six seasons for Detroit before signing with the Bulls prior to last campaign, had 10 points and 13 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and second in four games.

"I'm all about the win," said Wallace, who was 8-of-9 from the foul line. "As long as we get the win, I'm good."

Chicago, which shot 44 percent (35-of-80), hammered the Pistons on the boards, 51-39.

"We didn't do what we were supposed to do, and they definitely outhustled us rebounding," McDyess said. "The offensive rebounding really hurt us. I was surprised we were just in the game the way we were in the first half. What they have, 16 offensive rebounds? You can't win ballgames when you give them that many second-chance shots."

Billups finished with 27 points and Richard Hamilton scored 24 for the Pistons, who shot 40 percent (32-of-81) and saw their five-game winning streak end.

"The Pistons are 13-6 and in first place," Skiles said. "I don't think it's for me to be dissecting their team. Those guys are great players. Night after night they punish people down there (under the basket). They were doing what we were doing. They were going to what was working at the time, and that's what we were trying to do."

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