Even the return of All-Star center Joakim Noah to the lineup couldn’t prevent something that hadn’t occurred since Dec. 23, 2008, from happening: the Pistons beat the Bulls.

In a lackluster effort, after leading throughout the first quarter, the Bulls (42-34) couldn’t contend with the balanced Detroit (26-52) attack and fell, 99-85, Sunday night at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

Facing their Central Division rival, a team they had defeated in 18 consecutive meetings, the Bulls jumped out to a quick start, with balanced scoring leading the way.

Noah (13, points, seven rebounds, three assists), in his first game back in the lineup after missing eight consecutive games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, was his typically active self in the early going, as he made his presence felt on the glass and pushed the ball in transition.

The visitors built a double-digit advantage behind the play of Carlos Boozer (21 points, 10 rebounds) , Jimmy Butler (14 points) and Nate Robinson (18 points)—the backup point guard started alongside starter Kirk Hinrich, while the second-year swingman replaced All-Star Luol Deng, who was out with a right-hip injury, at small forward—as well as their usual stingy defense.

Despite strong late-period play by Hinrich, Detroit, propelled by steady power forward Greg Monroe (11 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) and scoring guard Rodney Stuckey (14 points), mounted a comeback to narrow the gap, although the Bulls still maintained a 26-23 lead through a quarter of play.

The Pistons’ momentum carried over to the second quarter, as varied contributions—the likes of reserves Charlie Villaneuva (12 points), Jonas Jerebko (17 points, nine rebounds) and rookie Khris Middleton (10 points) each got on the board—helped the hosts overtake their guests.