Bulls look for revenge in Detroit
The Detroit Pistons delivered their biggest comeback of the season against the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The Bulls don't have to wait long to seek redemption for that loss.
The Central Division rivals will square off again on Sunday in an early afternoon tilt at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena.
Chicago opened up a 21-point lead at home on Friday but the Pistons chipped away at the deficit in the third quarter and erupted in the fourth quarter. Detroit scored 43 points in the final 12 minutes of a 112-104 victory, its 11th win in 13 games.
"It's frustrating, but we've got to stick together and keep our head up and try to look at the positives," Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen said. "We did have a really good first half, and we can build on that. And, just take a look at the film and see what was successful for us in the first half, and work on it."
Turnovers played a big role as the Bulls led 66-49 at halftime. They converted 11 Detroit giveaways into 20 points. Chicago only scored four points off seven turnovers in the second half.
"We've got to bring the edge and I don't think we had the energy to start the third," Markkanen said. "They definitely brought it in the third. Obviously, they didn't play as great in the first (half). So, we've just got to come out harder and finish the job."
Pistons All-Star power forward Blake Griffin finished the job, though in the third quarter it appeared he might be finished for the night. Griffin scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter.
He retreated to the locker room during the third quarter to have a lower right leg injury evaluated. Upon returning to the bench later in the quarter, Griffin told coach Dwane Casey he could continue to play.
"I asked him and he was ready to go," Casey said. "Right now, we're playing for something special, and if Blake can go, unless he says he just can't play, we've got to go with all hands on deck. I don't know if you've looked at the standings lately but nobody's got a cushion, so we've got to have everybody available. We'll worry about the playoffs once we get there. As far as rest, we've got to have the fighters."
Griffin's frontcourt partner Andre Drummond showed plenty of fight. He finished with 20 points and 24 rebounds. Drummond leads the NBA with 11 20-20 games.
"He played that entire second half because we were searching for that intensity," Casey said. "He got in there, he protected the rim, rebounded some tough rebounds and got some buckets for us down the stretch."
Detroit's reserves have also sparked the team's resurgence and once again played a major role in Friday's comeback. Casey used three second-unit players - guards Ish Smith and Langston Galloway and small forward Luke Kennard - throughout the fourth quarter.
"We were searching for five fighters, scratchers, whatever we could do to get the defensive intensity up," Casey said. "They're a talented team, very talented as far as one-on-one play and they'll expose you."
The Pistons can complete a sweep of the four-game season series with a win on Sunday.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 9, 2019