In the end, this game came down to shooting. The Chicago Bulls didn’t make their shots, and Detroit did.
The Bulls played hard, without two of its starters, Derrick Rose, (a sore elbow), and Taj Gibson, a rib injury. The players replacing them in the starting lineup had either poor shot selection or didn’t get the ball to get into any kind of rhythm.
It fell to Jimmy Butler’s heroic performance in this key home battle. He scored 28 points, grabbed a career high 17 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists. Oh, he also had three steals and three blocked shots. Pau Gasol had another good night, scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. And, Aaron Brooks came off the bench to add 14 points. However, no other Bulls player reached double figures while Detroit’s starting five all reached double-figures with Reggie Jackson going for 22 points and leading the Pistons. Tobias Harris had 21.
Andre Drummond who has been a demon to the Bulls this season had a quiet 11 points, and 11 rebounds. Previously he had averaged 26.5 and 20 rebounds in three other games. Katevious Caldwell-Pope did some damage with 14 points and two treys that hurt the Bulls.
“You gotta get your shooters involved,” said Bulls TV analyst Stacey King.
In this game, they were merely background to Butler’s stellar night. Mike Dunleavy Jr. was 1-3, Doug McDermott 1-5, Nikola Mirotic 2-7. Bobby Portis went 3-5 in place of Gibson. E’twaun Moore scored six points on 3-10 shooting. In total, the Bulls shot 38.6% from the field, and that is a low percentage.
But Butler was all over the floor, literally keeping the Bulls in the game. Detroit made only 20-34 free-throws to also keep the Bulls in it.
Detroit took a seven point lead with 43.3 seconds left but Butler nailed a trey, and Detroit brainlocked on an inbounds play, giving Butler two free-throws opportunities. He made them and Chicago trailed 90-88 with 43.0 left, seemingly plenty of time.
The Bulls mis-fired and could not tie the game. The Pistons converted their charity strip attempts down the stretch and game over.
Another frustrating loss for a Bulls team that had its chances. There was a lack of offense and some players were not in the play. It appeared it was give the ball to Butler and “let’s see what he can do.”
Late in the game Butler got called for blocking foul on Jackson with 20.4 second left that left him on the floor of court.
Officials reviewed play, but it was called a foul on Butler, not Jackson, who appeared to knee him in the air.
After the game, Butler told the Associated Press:
“I just felt I could have done more,” Butler said. “I could have made more shots or played better defense.
There is always room for improvement. All I want to do is win. I didn’t do my job. We didn’t do our job as a whole.”
The Bulls are running out of time and healthy players. They win games which they shouldn’t and lose games which they should win. That doesn’t sound like a playoff team to this writer. Detroit played its second game of a back to back and did what it had to do.
So far, the Bulls have not been able to accomplish the same.