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posted: 1/24/2013 10:03 PM

Bulls' Robinson relishes role of sparkplug

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  • Guard Nate Robinson scored 9 straight fourth-quarter points Wednesday to spark the Bulls' victory over Detroit.

    Guard Nate Robinson scored 9 straight fourth-quarter points Wednesday to spark the Bulls' victory over Detroit.
    Associated Press


The Bulls got a great Nate Robinson on Wednesday against Detroit.

Joakim Noah's miraculous save, which counted as both an offensive rebound and assist to Marco Belinelli for the game-winning 3-point play, wouldn't have happened if not for Robinson.

Trailing Detroit by 11 points heading into the fourth quarter, Robinson scored 9 straight points, capped by a 3-pointer that made it 70-69 with still nine minutes remaining.

"My biggest asset to the game is energy," Robinson said after the 85-82 win over Detroit. "That's something I always pride myself in doing is playing as hard as I can and bringing energy, no matter if the place is rocking or the place is dead.

"I just had to force the crowd to get out of their seats and give us a little boost."

There are times when great Nate has flipped and become mistake Nate. That didn't happen against the Pistons. He might have taken one overly quick 3-pointer, but he finished off the game with a couple of nice assists to Noah and Jimmy Butler.

"We need Nate to be aggressive offensively," Noah said. "Everything about this game was flat. The energy was flat. The energy in the building, it was kind of quiet in there. Then Nate came in and did his thing and really got us going. He's won a lot of ballgames for us."

Robinson seems to get carried away sometimes with having a hot hand or trying to make a spectacular play. That's when the quick misses or untimely turnovers can happen. He tries not to think about taking a wrong turn when he's on a roll.

"Bad shots, mistakes -- that's just me," Robinson said. "You either love it or you hate it, and I can care less whichever one you like. I'm going to be me out there.

"I'm going to play as hard as I can. I'm going to make mistakes along the way, but I'm going to play through them. That's just something my dad instilled in me early in my life: Just playing hard no matter what mistake you make. Just play through it and just have fun and worry about what you can control."

New go-to guy:

In his three starts in place of Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler's late-game scoring has been astounding.

Against Memphis, he went 4-for-4 from the field and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He had 4 points against the Lakers in the final quarter, while playing solid defense against Kobe Bryant.

On Wednesday against Detroit, Butler was 3-for-10 from the field after three quarters. But he opened the fourth with a crowd-igniting fastbreak dunk and later put the Bulls ahead 82-80 with a corner 3-pointer.

"Obviously, there's a lot of things he has to improve upon, but he's not afraid of the big moment," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He has a lot of courage and toughness, and that goes a long way in this league. He competes on every play."

Butler becomes mini-Lu:

The Bulls skipped practice Thursday, so there was no update on Luol Deng's injured right hamstring. He said Wednesday it's feeling better, but he may not be ready to return this weekend, when the Bulls host Golden State and visit Washington.

Jimmy Butler has averaged 46 minutes in three games as a starter and led the team in scoring twice with 18 points against Memphis and Detroit.

"It comes from watching Luol Deng play," Butler said. "He does so much for this team. I try to be a mini-Lu. He scores, he guards, he rebounds, passes, the energy -- he does it all for this team."

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