Chicago, IL – Nate Robinson poured in 18 points off the bench on Saturday, as the Chicago Bulls held off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 87-80, at United Center.
Joakim Noah netted 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Luol Deng added 16 points, seven boards and four assists for the Bulls, who have won the last six meetings with Minnesota.
"I think we have to just keep fighting for as many wins as possible," Noah said. "We just gotta keep grinding."
Nikola Pekovic paced the Timberwolves with 18 points to go with eight rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko chipped in 11 points, 12 boards and seven assists in a losing effort, as Minnesota had its three-game winning streak snapped.
"Tough game," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman admitted. "We played hard. We did everything we could, we just couldn't sustain it."
Chicago held a slim 20-19 edge after the first 12 minutes, but Minnesota netted the first six points of the second to grab a five-point lead.
The Bulls answered with the next 11 points, but the visitors countered with a 12-4 swing to take a 37-35 lead with just under three minutes left.
Noah scored the Bulls' final five points of the frame to cut the deficit to 41-40 heading into the locker room.
Neither team led by more than four in a tightly contested third quarter, which saw five ties and four lead changes before the Bulls carried a 63-59 advantage into the final frame.
Marco Belinelli opened the fourth with back-to-back 3-pointers around a Malcolm Lee layup to press the lead to seven, and after a pair of free throws from Kirilenko, Belinelli buried another triple to make it a 72-63 contest with 9:55 remaining.
Minnesota pulled within five on a Dante Cunningham pullup later in the fourth, but Deng scored six points in a brief 8-3 run to push Chicago's lead back to double digits with 3:53 left in the contest.
The Timberwolves again moved within five with under a minute remaining, but the Bulls hit 3-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to hold on for the victory.
Kevin Love (hand) and Ricky Rubio (knee) remained sidelined for Minnesota ... The game featured nine lead changes and 11 ties ... Belinelli finished with 11 points ... Cunningham donated 14 points and four rebounds.