Bulls guard Marquis Teague, who had eight points, drives to the basket against Nets forward Gerald Wallace. | AP
Updated: January 17, 2013 6:52AM
Derrick Rose suffered a slew of injuries last season before undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
His primary replacement, Kirk Hinrich, has suffered hip, thumb, groin and elbow injuries this season and missed his second consecutive game Saturday night with a bruised left knee, which begs the question:
Coincidence or curse?
It was starting to feel less like the latter after rookie point guard Marquis Teague made several clutch plays down the stretch as the Bulls defeated the Nets 83-82 at the United Center.
Brooklyn has one of the best point-guard tandems in the league in Deron Williams and former Rose backup C.J. Watson. The Bulls countered with Nate Robinson and Teague. It was an obvious advantage for the Nets, who got 24 points and five assists from Williams and had 27 points and six assists from the point-guard position compared to the Bulls’ 14 and seven.
But it was Teague and Marco Belinelli who made the biggest plays when it counted most.
“That’s a very difficult matchup,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Deron Williams is one of the elite point guards in the league. [We] had a rookie out there. He did a great job getting himself ready to play.
“You’re never going to stop a guy like Deron Williams. You just have to make him work, and he did. He did a tremendous job for us.”
Robinson picked up his fifth foul with 7:05 left, forcing Thibodeau to put Teague on the floor during a critical stretch.
Teague responded with a layup and an 18-footer late in the game after the Bulls had gone stone-cold from the field. Then he picked up a loose ball and dribbled the length of the floor before feeding Luol Deng for a layup that knotted the score at 79 with 1:02 left.
“I watch these guys every day in practice,” Teague said. “I know what they like to do. I know their strengths and where to give them the ball where they will be most effective.”
Teague is showing flashes. He played particularly well in the second quarter but also had some rookie lapses.
He passed up an open three-pointer with the shot clock winding down with less than three minutes left. He compounded that mistake by fouling Williams when he was shooting a three-pointer on Brooklyn’s next trip down the floor.
Belinelli came off a Joakim Noah screen and found nothing but open floor in front of him en route to a game-winning layup with 22.1 seconds left.
Belinelli scored 19, including two late free throws that put the Bulls up by four and made Williams’ buzzer-beating three-pointer moot. Deng added 17 points, Carlos Boozer had 15 and Joakim Noah scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Teague had eight points and two assists in just under 20 minutes.
Brook Lopez had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, and Joe Johnson overcame early foul trouble to score 16.
“A lot of guys are stepping up,” Noah said. “That’s what it’s all about.”