In a game that wouldn’t happen until the second half of the season, the Detroit Pistons made an unexpected trip to the United Center to take on the Bulls. Detroit was supposed to play against San Antonio on Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test and a search for contacts within the Spurs organization. The Pistons were supposed to play in Dallas on Wednesday, but bad weather in Texas forced another postponement. Meanwhile, the Bulls were supposed to take on Charlotte on Wednesday, but the game had to be postponed because the Hornets were concerned about COVID-19.

Prior to tonight’s game, the Pistons won back-to-back for the first time since January, bringing their winning streak to three games, while the Bulls failed to keep the momentum going from Monday’s overtime victory over the Pacers. Chicago brought back center Wendell Carter Jr. for the second game in a row after he missed nearly a month because of a concussion. The Bulls have won five games in a row against the Pistons since 11/11/19.

Zach LaVine keeps reminding us why he deserves a spot in this year’s All-Star Game. He finished the night with 37 points in 35 minutes. He was backed by strong performances from Patrick Williams and Wendell Carter Jr. For Detroit, Jerami Grant did his best to keep his team in the game as the lead slipped away, finishing the night with a record 43 points.

Cold start

The Bulls started the game with a decent offensive rhythm and good ball movement, but with minimal effort on defense. It quickly became clear that Stacy King was right when he talked about a possible fall in his analysis before the game. However, the Bulls ended the first quarter with just 8 points. However, the situation deteriorated rapidly in the second quarter. While the defensive effort improved, the team froze on the court and could not score a single point until 8:16.

LaVine, though his team really needed him to be selfish and dominate the ball, seemed to focus more on his teammates, and before you could blink, the Bulls were down by 25 points. Offensively the team looked totally disorganised, the ball was often passed around and it looked dangerous at times. They finished the quarter with just 16 points, shot 36% from the field and 21% from downtown, and won on an 18 point hole early in the second half. However, they ended the half with a solid defensive effort on Detroit’s changing possessions, anticipating what would happen in the second half.

A story in two parts

Coach Donovan sent a strong message when he replaced Williams, Carter Jr. and White at the start of the third quarter. In the first half, Carter Jr. and White both finished with scores of -13 and Williams finished with -18. This defensive performance was clearly unacceptable to Donovan, and he opted for a more routine line-up with Temple, Valentine and Young for the first seven minutes. Donovan pushed all the right buttons as the Bulls got out of the starting blocks, led by the ultra-aggressive Lavin, who attacked at every opportunity. The team’s defense kicked into high gear with plenty of effort, on-target turnovers and active hands, reducing Detroit’s sizeable lead to just three points.

Bulls full back

Patrick Williams, who was on the bench to start the fourth quarter, took the lead until LaVine was able to come back, playing with a lot of energy and hitting several throws. A save from Temple gave the team their first lead since kickoff. Koby White, who scored just eight points that night, hit a three-pointer to give the Bulls a four-point lead with 45 seconds left. Grant answered for Detroit with three points on his side, then Williams equalized on the other end. With the Bulls now down two points, LaVine missed two free throws, which opened the door for the Pistons to decide the game in extra time. Fortunately, Detroit’s last shot missed, and the Bulls secured their 12th win of the season by a score of 105-102.

What to do next

The Bulls (12-15) travel to Philadelphia (19-10) on Friday night to play the 76ers for the first time this year. The 76ers are currently in the Eastern Conference. As always, you can stay up to date with Bulls On Tap’s articles, reviews and podcasts.

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