AUBURN HILLS, Michigan– The Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls matched up at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the final time this season. It was the final chance the Pistons had at the Bulls this season and end a lengthy 18 game losing streak to their rivals. They’ve come close, losing the first three games by a total of eight points, but tonight they came to play.
They didn’t start well. Nate Robinson opened the scoring with a triple and Carlos Boozer had a jumper for Chicago. They opened up a 14-5 lead on a Jimmy Butler 3 and a Robinson layup, it was 18-7 after a Boozer slam.
The Pistons started to fight back behind the aggressiveness of Rodney Stuckey, who started for the injured Jose Calderon, and reserves Jonas Jerebko and Khris Middleton. The Pistons trailed 26-23 after one.
Jerebko opened the 2nd with a triple, Middleton had a layup, Brandon Knight drove to the cup, and Charlie Villanueva knocked down the 3 and he had a slam off a pick-and-roll. I couldn’t believe that Villanueva rolled. The Pistons led 35-30.
Will Bynum, who returned after a hand injury, had a floater in the lane and Kyle Singler had a layup. Knight then scored six straight points and the Pistons led 50-46 at the half.
Chicago was within 55-52 before Knight answered with a triple and Stuckey had a jumper. On the defensive end, the two Pistons big men kept the Bulls at one-and-done. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were gobbling up rebounds at a high rate. Knight handled the scoring. He had 12 in the quarter and the Pistons carried a 75-67 lead into the 4th.
The quarter started off in a weird way as the Bulls started off with the ball. The Pistons won the opening tip and they were supposed to start the 4th with the ball. The referees caught the mistake and awarded the Pistons the basketball.
The 4th quarter was all Pistons. Jerebko was on the ground hustling for loose balls. Stuckey had one defensive play where he knocked the ball from Kirk Hinrich, dove on the floor, got it to Monroe, who found Jerebko for the slam dunk on the break.
Later, Stuckey missed an off balance jumper and Villanueva came flying in for a 1-handed tip dunk. Middleton would hit a 3 to put Detroit up by 14 with 1:33 to play and the Pistons just cruised form there.
They ended the 18 game losing streak to the Bulls and won 99-85. Their first win over Chicago since Dec. 23, 2008 when Stuckey had a career high 40 points.
Knight led the way with 20 points, Jerebko had 17 and nine rebounds off the bench, Drummond had 10 boards, and Villanueva and Middleton both scored in double-digits. Monroe had an efficient 11 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
My bright spot is obviously ending that ridiculous losing streak. That was too long and it needed to end. I don’t care if you wanted this team to “tank”, this was one game the Pistons just had to win. Most of these guys haven’t even experienced a win over the Bulls. The only players who were on the roster on the Dec. 23 night are Stuckey and Jason Maxiell.
Also the continued development of Middleton. He’s playing very well and he’s earned coach Lawrence Frank’s trust in crunch time.