Ben Gordon scored 33 points and the Chicago Bulls stayed perfect this season against Detroit, using a strong fourth-quarter defensive effort to beat the Pistons 97-81 Saturday night.
The Bulls outscored the Pistons 26-14 in the final period, improving to 3-0 this season against the team that eliminated them in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.
Andres Nocioni added 21 points in place of the injured Luol Deng, who was out with a sore Achilles'. Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 27 points, but Detroit shot only 5-of-18 in the last quarter.
The Bulls were nursing a 76-70 lead in the fourth, then ran off 10 straight points and were ready to take control with a 16-point lead.
But Billups hit a 3-pointer and Jarvis Hayes made a free throw when fouled on the same play, and the Pistons were back within 10. But the mini-rally fizzled when Bulls rookie Joakim Noah tipped in a shot, Gordon connected on a 3-pointer and Thabo Sefolosha dunked to put the Bulls back up 13.
Chicago point guard Chris Duhon had to be carried off the floor with just more than eight minutes left after he and Billups apparently bumped knees. Duhon was diagnosed with a left knee sprain.
Sefolosha finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds from his guard position.
The Bulls expanded a nine-point halftime lead to 13 in the third quarter when former Pistons center Ben Wallace hit his second jumper of the game right before the shot clock buzzer.
But Billups, who had 15 points in the third quarter, scored nine points in a 15-3 run as the Pistons came right back, even as Rasheed Wallace went to the bench with his fourth foul. The spurt cut the lead to one before Chicago put it back to 71-67 with a quarter remaining.
Sefolosha's 3-pointer and a basket by Nocioni put Chicago ahead by nine early in the fourth, and there were no final-quarter meltdowns by the Bulls.
Rasheed Wallace committed his third foul late in the second quarter and it helped the Bulls go on an 18-3 run. Nocioni's basket and subsequent three-point play after the foul, and a three-point play by Gordon helped the Bulls build an eight-point lead.
Kirk Hinrich's jumper with 6 seconds left put Chicago ahead 50-41 at the half.
Hinrich, who'd missed the previous three games with back spasms, didn't start but entered the game four minutes into the opening quarter. Looking a little stiff at the outset, Hinrich worked himself into the flow of the game and finished the half with six points. He had eight points in 26 minutes.