The Chicago Bulls have owned the Detroit Pistons in recent years. They had won 19 of the last 20 with the Pistons including a win 10 days ago at the Palace. The United Center has been a house of horrors for the Pistons, Detroit last won at the United Center February 24, 2006. However, this is a new team with new players. They know nothing about the recent past.
Brandon Jennings knocked down a triple to give the Pistons the early 7-4 advantage. However, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer were active early to give the Bulls a 17-11 lead. Gibson was out working the Pistons in the early part of the game.
Rookie Tony Snell gave Chicago a 21-15 lead on a jumper but the Pistons answered with a 10-0 run. Jennings had a layup then set up Kyle Singler for an And-1. Singler then had a layup and he knocked down a triple for a 25-22 lead. Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy Jr. answered with a runner at the buzzer and the Pistons lead was 25-24 after one.
Chicago opened up a 36-30 lead after a Gibson layup and Dunleavy Jr. hit a triple. After Jonas Jerebko hit a 3 to make it 36-33, Rodney Stuckey injured his knee after he turned the ball over. Stuckey, the leading the scorer for the Pistons this season, went straight to the bench and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came in for him. Stuckey would miss the rest of the game.
Chicago went up 45-38 on Marquis Teague free throws, but Detroit answered with a 9-2 run. Caldwell-Pope hit a triple, Jennings hit a technical foul free throw, Josh Smith hit free throws, and little used reserve Josh Harrellson hit a 3 to send the game into the halftime locker room tied at 47.
The third started off with a familiar sign. Smith threw up a lob and Andre Drummond threw it down. Then Drummond put back a Smith miss and Caldwell-Pope had a fast break dunk off the Greg Monroe pass. The Pistons led 53-47 and the Bulls had to call for time.
Then there was a stretch of ugly basketball. The Bulls nor the Pistons could hit the side of the basket let alone hit a basket. There were turnovers and bad shots. There was only four points between the 9:57 mark of the third quarter and the 5:03 mark. Both were by Chicago as the Pistons lead was only 53-51. Then, Detroit finally found some offense.
They went on a 13-1 run kick started by a Caldwell-Pope jumper. Harrellson followed with a 3, Jennings knocked down a step back triple, Harrellson saved the ball from going out of bounds to Monroe for a layup, and even Smith hit a 3 for a 66-52 lead. Singler hit a 3 and Harrellson had a runner in the lane for a 71-56 Pistons lead after three quarters. The Pistons out scored Chicago 24-9 in the quarter.
In the fourth, Jennings put the Bulls to bed. With Detroit leading 73-62 after a Harrellson layup, Jennings scored 10 straight Pistons points. The last of which was a step back 3 to give the Pistons an 83-68 lead with 4:13 to go that sealed it. Everything was going for Jennings. He flipped up a fall away one hander as the shot clock expired and then he banked in a 3-pointer for a 92-73 lead with 53 seconds left. The Pistons went on to win 92-75. Their first win at the United Center since February 24, 2006.
Jennings had 33 points in easily his best game as a Piston, Drummond had eight and 14 boards, Monroe had eight and 12 rebounds, and Smith had seven and 10 boards. Singler had 12 and Harrellson had 10 off the bench, providing huge minutes. The Pistons were 12/19 from deep, good for 63.2%. Coming into tonight, they ranked 29th in the league in 3-point percentage so that was a pleasant surprise.
First things first, let’s put this in perspective. Chicago had no Derrick Rose, no Jimmy Butler, and no Luol Deng. So the Pistons caught the Bulls short-handed.
Secondly, Jennings was terrific. There are going to be nights when the front line of Drummond, Monroe, and Smith will be neutralized and tonight was the night. Jennings stepped up and took on more of a scoring role, much like in his time with the Bucks. He lit up both Kirk Hinrich and Teague. Neither guy could stay in front of a much quicker Jennings.
The Pistons don’t have much time to celebrate this one. It’s back to work tonight at the Palace for a rematch with 2-time champion Miami Heat. Detroit defeated Miami at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday 107-97 so Miami will want to avenge that loss.
But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that the Pistons are actually entertaining again.