Bulls Erase 18-Point Deficit to Beat Pistons and Take No. 3 Seed from Raptors

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2014

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) celebrates with forward Carlos Boozer, left, and guard Kirk Hinrich, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Chicago on Friday, April 11, 2014. The Bulls won 106-98. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh

The Chicago Bulls have the style of play, experience and coaching necessary to be considered playoff spoilers, and they took another step toward obtaining that label on Friday night. 

After trailing the Detroit Pistons by 18 at halftime, the Bulls exploded in the second half, outscoring the opposition by 26 points over the game's final 24 minutes en route to a 106-98 win. 

More importantly, though, the win thrusted the Bulls into sole possession of the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed after the Toronto Raptors fell to the New York Knicks, 108-100, on Friday evening. 

"Yeah, we're excited about that," Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer told reporters following the win, according to NBA.com. "Now it's up to us to keep it."

In the win, point guard D.J. Augustin scored a team-high 24 points (7-of-14 shooting) and dished out six assists off the bench while Joakim Noah contributed six points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and two steals. 

Remaining Schedules
ChicagoSun, April 13 at KnicksMon, April 14 vs. MagicWed, April 16 at Bobcats
TorontoSun, April 13 at PistonsMon, April 14 vs. BucksWed, April 16 at Knicks

Should Chicago finish ahead of Dwane Casey's upstart bunch, it would present the Bulls with an opportunity to avoid clashing with the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and potentially the Miami Heat in the second round. 

Instead, the Bulls would likely be on a crash course for a second-round matchup with the sputtering Indiana Pacers, whom Chicago's intimately familiar with from their rough-and-tumble Central Division battles. 

In fact, the Bulls and Pacers split the season series two games apiece, while neither squad averaged more than 90 points per game over those four contests.  

And while the No. 3 seed isn't going to ensure any sort of deep postseason run for the Bulls, it will certainly make their goal of pressing on deep into May a more realistic goal. 

Under the guidance of Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls have established themselves as arguably the league's most fearsome defense, one that's surrendering a shade over 100 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks No. 2 overall behind the Pacers, according to Basketball-Reference

A resilient bunch that proved it wasn't fazed by injuries last postseason when they traded blows with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bulls will have serious sleeper appeal should they maintain a lock on that No. 3 seed.