CHICAGO – Nate Robinson scored 18 points and the Bulls beat Minnesota, 87-80, on Saturday night, ending the Timberwolves’ three-game winning streak.
Robinson played 31 minutes after starting point guard Kirk Hinrich left the game with a right hip strain in the second quarter. Hinrich had 11 points in the period to help the Bulls beat Minnesota for the sixth straight time.
Joakim Noah added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Luol Deng chippd in with 16 points and seven rebounds, as the Bulls (4-2) bounced back from their second home loss in three outings.
Nikola Pekovic led the short-handed Timberwolves (4-2) with 18 points and eight rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko added 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Minnesota’s three-game streak matched its season high from last season.
Marco Belinelli hit three 3-pointers in the opening minutes to help the Bulls establish a nine-point lead. The Bulls hit 6 for 13 from behind the arc, its season high for makes. The Bulls entered the game last in the NBA in 3-point makes and attempts.
The Bulls led by as many as 10 points down the stretch, going up by that margin when Deng hit a jumper from the corner with 3:53 remaining.
The Timberwolves closed to within five points on Dante Cunningham’s layup with 42.6 second to play, but the Bulls held on down the stretch.
Robinson’s seven points helped the Bulls grab a six-point lead with an 11-point run midway through the second quarter. The run was capped by Noah’s feed to Taj Gibson on the baseline for a two-handed dunk.
The Timberwolves had gone 3:23 without a point before Cunningham snapped the streak with a 17-footer. Cunningham scored eight points of his 14 points in the quarter, and Minnesota battled back to lead 41-40 at the half.
The Bulls edged back in front with a 23-18 third quarter advantage, capped when rookie Marquis Teague drove the lane and scored with his left hand for his first career points. That gave Teague as many points as Carlos Boozer, who was 0 for 5 from the floor in the game.
Boozer finished with two points and failed to make a field goal in a game for the first time since Nov. 18, 2003.
The Bulls got the good and bad from mercurial guard Robinson in the second period, as he scored 11 points to fuel Chicago’s rally, but also turned the ball over five times to help Minnesota’s recovery.
The Bulls led 20-19 after the first quarter despite 10 points and six rebounds from Pekovic. Deng led Chicago with seven points in the period.
NOTES: The Timberwolves had just 11 players available. Ricky Rubio (left knee surgery) and Kevin Love (fractured right hand) have been out all season. Jose Barea missed his second straight game with a sprained left foot, while Brandon Roy missed his first game of the campaign with a sore right knee. ... The Bulls finish their five-game homestand on Monday against Boston. Chicago then hits the road for two weeks while a circus takes over the United Center. . Chicago held its opponent under 100 points for the 15th straight games. . Saturday marked the 23rd anniversary of the first win in Minnesota history, a 125-118 overtime win over Philadelphia. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was a Timberwolves assistant at the time in his first NBA season. . Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich left the game in the first half with a right hip strain and did not return.