CHICAGO (AP) -- Eric Piatkowski has often found himself watching
fourth quarters from the bench during his 10-year NBA career, but
he doesn't have to worry about playing time in critical situations
under Bulls coach Scott Skiles.
Piatkowski came off the bench to score 16 points, and Andres
Nocioni added 17 in a reserve role to lead the Chicago Bulls to a
101-93 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday night.
Jannero Pargo scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter
for Chicago, which extended its winning streak to five games. The
Bulls have won 12 of their last 13 games and eight straight at
"I have been on a lot of teams in the past where a coach didn't
feel that confidence, he would put (bench) guys in ... and they
would get you back in the game, and he would yank you out because
it was almost like they couldn't stand to have those guys in (late
in the game) because they had to have their starters in,"
"Scott and his staff have told us numerous times, 'We have a
lot of confidence in all of you players and we will play you at the
most important time of the game if we feel you are the right person
at the right time."
Skiles felt that way Thursday night and didn't play a starter in
the entire fourth quarter.
Trailing 73-71 with one minute left in the third quarter,
Nocioni had a steal and a three-point play to give Chicago a 74-73
lead. Jason Kapono hit a 3 for the Bobcats, making it 79-78 early
in the fourth quarter, before Chicago extended its lead behind a
17-4 run with all reserves on the floor.
Pargo, who has played sparingly this season, scored 10 points
during the run. Nocioni and Piatkowski hit back-to-back baskets to
give the Bulls a 83-78 lead, and Pargo capped it off with a jumper
to make it 96-82 with 4:16 left. He was 7-of-10 from the field in
the fourth quarter.
"The guys they brought off (the bench), with Pargo, (Othella)
Harrington, and they all contributed. They all seem to know their
roles. I thought their execution was good and they delivered on
their execution. But the key was the guy that kept them going was
Pargo," Bobcats head coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
Chicago's reserves contributed 63 points.
"Thank goodness for our bench," Skiles said. "At the
beginning of the game, that was as soft as our defense has been the
whole year. I was leery of leaving the starters out there."
The Bobcats have dropped 10 straight and have the NBA's worst
road record, 1-18. They have lost 16 of 17 overall since winning
three of four games from Dec. 14-22.
It was the first meeting between former college teammates Emeka
Okafor and Ben Gordon, who led Connecticut to the 2004 national
championship and were taken with the second and third picks in the
NBA draft, but neither stood out. Gordon spent the entire second
half on the bench, and Okafor was held to four points.
"Stuff happens, I think we play them another two or three
times. We will have our chances," Gordon said.
Kareem Rush had 24 points for the Bobcats and Jason Hart added
17 points. Rush was 6-of-8 from three-point range.
The Bulls led 50-44 at the half. Luol Deng scored all of his 12
points in the half, and Piatkowski added eight points off the
Before the game, Okafor and Gordon were selected for the
Rookie Challenge on Feb. 18 as part of the NBA All-Star weekend in
Denver. Okafor, the No. 2 overall selection in the draft, is
averaging 15.4 points and 11.3 rebounds for the Bobcats, while
Gordon is averaging 13.1 points for the Bulls. Deng was also
selected to play for the rookie team and Kirk Hinrich was picked to
play for the sophomore team. ... The Bulls haven't won eight in a
row on their home court since a 10-game winning streak from Feb.
28-April 11, 1998.