The Bulls entered Wednesday’s game against the Pistons on the heels of some bad injury news, with Otto Porter Jr. out for at least two more weeks with his foot injury and Chandler Hutchison out with “sore shins” with no timetable to return. This led to Football Guy Shaquille Harrison being inserted into the starting lineup, but this turned out to be a perfect game to run with him at the 3 as the Bulls cruised to a 109-89 victory with Luol Deng (and a bunch of other former Bulls) in the building against an abhorrent Pistons squad.
To Harrison’s credit, he put forth a spirited effort with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals and a team-best plus-29 in 26 minutes. He even hit a 3-pointer! His relentless energy was a welcome sight in the lineup.
But, again, this was a perfect game for Harrison and the Bulls to look good in. With Tony Snell and Reggie Jackson out, the Pistons started Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway and Bruce Brown in the backcourt. There’s just very little juice there, and it was exacerbated even more by the fact that Blake Griffin played like he was 50 years old.
Griffin was an abomination from the start in this game, just never looking right and showing very little explosiveness as he tries to work his way back from knee surgery. He got smoked by Bulls bigs multiple times on the glass and struggled to finish in traffic and from outside. He also was barely moving for long stretches on either end of the floor. It honestly didn’t look like he was trying half the time. His final scoring line was 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) and a minus-26.
The Bulls jumped out to a quick 19-6 lead against the Pistons’ sleepy starting lineup, but Derrick Rose (18 points, a plus-5 and some MVP chants) provided a jolt when he checked in. The Pistons went on a 22-5 run to take a lead and held a four-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Bulls turned the tide and took a four-point lead of their own into half.
The Bulls then blew the game open in the second half. While the Bulls played some stellar defense, the Pistons couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, shooting 3-of-20 in the third quarter and only managing 16 points in the frame because of free-throw shooting. The Bulls weren’t that great in the quarter themselves, but they still took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and turned the final quarter into extended garbage time.
The Bulls shot just 42.9% from the field in this game (Zach LaVine was awful with 2-of-11 shooting and a bunch of misses around the rim), but the 3-point shooting was a major difference. The Bulls shot 14-of-27 from 3-land compared to a woeful 8-of-33 for the Pistons, who shot 33.7% overall on the night.
Lauri Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky and Coby White hit three triples apiece, and Markkanen finally had himself a big scoring game with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He also went 7-of-11 from the line as part of an aggressive performance, though he was helped by getting fouled on a few 3-pointers. He did get blocked on another ambitious dunk attempt, but I’ll take this scoring performance.
Satoransky had 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in a stellar performance, while Wendell Carter Jr. had another double-double with 12 points and 15 boards. Carter soundly outplayed Andre Drummond, who the broadcast even noted looked pretty disengaged all night.
Daniel Gafford followed up his rousing breakout game with a much quieter outing because the Pistons took away the lob, but he did have a few nice blocks, including one of Drummond at the rim.
Denzel Valentine didn’t play despite the wing injuries, so that’s not a good sign for him playing anytime soon unless the injury situation is truly dire.
In the end, I’m not taking much from this game other than I’m hoping this is the start of a good stretch for Markkanen. The Pistons looked awful and disinterested for most of the night, so I’m just glad the Bulls took care of business against an awful and disinterested opponent.
Friday against Jimmy Butler and the red-hot Heat will be a much better test.
I now leave you with Luol Deng: