Derrick Rose really wanted a win against his former team.
With Andre Drummond getting ejected early in the third quarter plus Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard out with injury, Rose willed his team to stay in a game that had no business staying close given the circumstances.
But midway through the fourth quarter, head coach Jim Boylen brought his main guys back as the game tightened up, and they were just a little bit better than the guys the Pistons threw out there. The Bulls prevailed 108-99 at Little Caesars Arena, snapping their season-high six-game losing streak in the process. The Bulls swept the season series against the Pistons by winning all four matchups. Seven of the Bulls’ 14 wins this season have now come against the Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
The Bulls got contributions from the usual places (Zach LaVine had a game-high 25 points although he struggled from 3-point range), but they also got contributions from weird places. Luke Kornet had season highs across the board. He played 25 minutes, scored 15 points, and grabbed six rebounds. He was a game-high plus-20.
In other unusual stat lines, Ryan Arcidiacono hit two 3-pointers and played 18 minutes, while Chandler Hutchison knocked down a key fourth-quarter triple. Thaddeus Young took one shot that he missed and had just two points in 20 minutes.
The Bulls shot over 50% from the field in the win.
It looked like the Bulls were actually going to make easy work of the Pistons. They ran out to a 35-20 lead after the first quarter, and it was all about Kornet. In eight minutes, the formerly excommunicated big man poured in 12 points on 5-for-7 from the field as the Bulls built their big lead (he was a plus-17 in the frame). It was a first quarter full of surprising things happening. Chicago didn’t turn the ball over in the quarter and assisted on 11 of their 14 field goals in the quarter (h/t K.C. Johnson).
The Pistons started to find a bit of a groove in the second quarter to stay within striking distance. LaVine was barking at the officials throughout the half and got a technical late in the half arguing a foul call. The Pistons actually shot 47.4 percent from the field in the half, but eight turnovers killed them (they had 19 for the game) and helped the Bulls maintain a 12-point lead heading into the showers at halftime.
After an Andre Drummond ejection (he threw the ball at the back of Daniel Gafford’s head after the Bulls rookie stared him down after a basket), the Pistons actually made a run in the third quarter, cutting the 12-point deficit at halftime to just two with 7:53 left in the third quarter. The video below is what Drummond did to get ejected:
Drummond finished with a quiet nine points and four rebounds, failing to take advantage of the absence of Wendell Carter Jr. The Pistons big man was also a minus-14 in a thoroughly disinterested performance against a Bulls team that had just gotten punked in the paint by the Pacers the night before. The Bulls outscored the Pistons by 14 in the paint in the first half and finished the game with a 12-point advantage in this area.
D-Rose led his team with 20 points on 7-for-11 from the field and dished out seven assists. He averaged 20.3 points per game this season against his former team, but it was never enough to beat Chicago.
The Bulls are now 14-26. They play the Boston Celtics on Monday night as they hit the official midway point of the season.