The Chicago Bulls shot 53% from the field and 56% from three last night against the Pistons. They also won the battle of the boards, 42-35. They also lost, 106-101.
So how did these Pistons, who shot 44% (fg) and 47% (3-point), pull out their 49th victory of the season with the numbers so firmly stacked against them? Two reasons: they battled on the defensive glass and they took care of the ball (and pressured the Bulls into the opposite).
Now as much as I've complained about the lack of rebounding recently, it might be surprising to hear me heaping praise on the Pistons for last night's performance. But despite being out-rebounded for the game, again, the Boys in Blue only allowed the Bulls 7 offensive boards--their lowest allowed since Valentine's Day W against the Nets. For their part, the Pistons grabbed 16 offensive boards, further mitigating the damage of an average shooting night (as opposed to the Bulls' 'NBA Jam'-esque numbers).
On the turnover battle, the Pistons forced the Bulls into 17 turnovers (converting them into 23 points), and gave up the ball only 8 times themselves. And perhaps no defensive play was more important than Sheed's steal in the final minute with the Pistons up 1. Sheed's all-around play (25 points on 9-17 shooting, 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks) was refreshing, as was the fact that he limited himself to only 5 three-point attempts. Flip had this to say about Sheed's shot selection (from MLive):
"Sometimes he might take some 3s where he was a little bit contested," Saunders said. "Tonight, he didn't try to force many. He let things come to him."
The Pistons also benefitted greatly from their usual balanced scoring from the starters, especially in the second half. Chauncey dropped 27 points and 9 dimes and was 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and Rip came on strong to finish with 24 points and 6 assists. As a team, Detroit scored 65 points in the second half--and needed every single one.
Let's be happy the Bulls are now out of the picture. They've shown a lot of heart in these past two matchups, and I, for one, am ready for a few blowouts with the struggling 'Zards, Bobcats, Raps, and Knicks forthcoming . Maybe not this season, but I think we'll see these Bulls again. With a solid core of guys like Gordon, Hinrich, and Nocioni (I've said it before, this guy is excrutiating for opponents, but good for Chicago), there's no reason Chi-town won't be back in the playoffs next season.
Blakely is a convert
A. Sherrod Blakely has apparently joined the Detroit Bad Boys "Church del Delfino."
"I thought we had terrible energy, terrible passion the first half," Saunders said. "We seemed very much disinterested."
However, that all changed in the third quarter shortly after Carlos Delfino came into the game following Tayshaun Prince heading to the bench after a knee collision with Chicago's Tyson Chandler on a driving lay-up early in the third.
Preach on, brother.