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Reggie Jackson carved up the Bulls perimeter defense

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and other Bulls/Pistons takeaways

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

Pistons starting PG Reggie Jackson had a first half that went as poorly as his whole season’s gone for Detroit. He shot 1/6 from the field in the opening two periods, only playing 12 minutes as backup Ish Smith not only had a more productive stint but the team looked better with him on the court. It had been a consistent rumor that the Pistons would go back to Smith as a starter, his role when Jackson was out after knee surgery to begin the season.

But the 2nd half changed things dramatically for both Jackson and his team. After making a couple three-pointers to begin the half (Detroit was 2/11 in the first half from distance), Jackson settled in to scoring off of the pick and roll. Though some times there wasn’t even a pick, as Bulls defender Jerian Grant would olé out on the perimeter, likely expecting help but showing poor fundamentals by doing so in these particular situations.

Jimmy Butler took the call later in the final period but didn’t fare any better. Butler was too slow to stay with Jackson, who was getting great screens from either Andre Drummond or Aaron Baynes.

Butler was also likely exhausted, at least he looked that way. He had the best game on the Bulls last night but though he went to the line an absurd amount he still didn’t seem totally right. Looked to be lacking explosion and had more shots blocked and lost the ball more often than what we’re used to seeing.

Butler had 5 turnovers to 4 assists on the night, and in taking defensive duties at PG also was running point-Jimmy offensively. It was not only lacking production but took plays way too long to develop even when they did work. As Will Purdue said postgame on CSN, point-Jimmy strategy makes a lot more sense when the team is protecting a lead and not down double-digits.

Bench discrepancy

The bench point totals weren’t too deficient for the Bulls, as they were merely outscored 36-29 as a unit, but collectively shot 34% compared to the Pistons 47%. As mentioned, Ish Smith helped dig the Pistons out of an early hole when he replaced Jackson. He was also helped out tremendously by Aaron Baynes, who went 5-5 in the first half to finish with 12 points and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes, and neutralized most of the Cristiano Felicio experience, and the Bulls were -15 when Big Cris was on the court.

Cam Payne was ok (and by far his best stint as a Bull), hitting 4 three-pointers and getting 3 assists. But he needed 14 shots to get his 14 points. Nikola Mirotic was abysmal, stuck in a really bad defensive matchup with Tobias Harris and providing his own turnstile defense:

Niko also shot like garbage. He had 2 solid games coming out of the all-star break, and I figured it’d be very Mirotic-y to have some big stretch run now that the pressure was off. But he went back to ineffectual the past few games.

Denzel Valentine and Michael Carter-Williams went 25 combined minutes without a field goal.

Seeing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo out had me looking forward to this game more than most as it’d give some other guys I don’t hate more minutes. But now I hate these guys too. I still don’t want the other two alphas back anytime soon though. What’s the point?

Hack a Drummond

Just briefly on this, the Bulls tried hacking Andre Drummond in the 2nd half. It didn’t really accomplish much. Started at 71-68 Bulls and wound up 77-74 Bulls as Drummond went 4/8 from the line. That’s actually far better than what he’d been shooting lately.

Speaking of Hoiberg’s decisions, he had another weird one where he put in Anthony Morrow in the final few minutes after he didn’t play all game. He did hit a three pointer but before then gave up an and-one to Jackson that had the game out of reach anyway.