CHICAGO: Pau Gasol scored a season-best 31 points as Chicago overcame the disappointment of Joakim Noah’s season-ending injury with a 111-101 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
The Spanish star also contributed 12 rebounds, while Derrick Rose added 20 points with Jimmy Butler contributing 16 and nine assists.
The game was Chicago’s first since Noah suffered a dislocated left shoulder on Friday, an injury expected to leave him sidelined for four to six months, ruling him out of the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs.
Gasol said Chicago had consciously sought to block out the disappointment of losing Noah to injury.
“We spoke about it in practice emotionally after knowing Jo’s going to be out for awhile, if the team was going to notice it or feel it in this game,” said Gasol, who also had three assists and three blocks.
“I think the team did a good job just focusing in, playing and competing and getting a huge win. It speaks a lot for our team, about our concentration and where our minds are at.”
Pistons power forward Ersan Ilyasova led the team scoring with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Andre Drummond scored his 35th double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds, while Reggie Jack¬son had 19 points and Marcus Morris added 18.
Detroit had won the first two meetings with Chicago earlier this season, both of which went to overtime.
Those victories included a marathon 147-44 battle last month that was finally settled in the fourth period of overtime. It was the only other occasion this season that Gasol had scored 30 points.
The Bulls, who improved to 24-16 for the season, were left reeling on Friday after Noah’s injury.
The son of former French tennis star Yannick Noah injured his shoulder in the defeat to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and underwent surgery at the weekend.
Although the Bulls are 9-2 in games without Noah, coach Fred Hoiberg said that winning record was irrelevant.
“I don’t think you’ll find one guy in that locker room that would say we’re a better team with Jo out of the lineup,” he said.
“He does a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score. He’s a guy we’ll absolutely miss the rest of the season.”