The Pistons battled back from a 19-point deficit to pull within two late in the game, but the Bulls did what they seem to always do against the Pistons in their building and won. Hopefully you heeded George Blaha's late advice and you did not look at that point. The Bulls closed the game's final two and a half minutes on a 10-3 run.
The Pistons trailed 60-44 after an ugly first half in which the Pistons shot 36 percent and were caught standing around far too often to stop the Bulls from shooting much better (53 percent) and scoring at will in the paint (36-18!). I can only imagine the heinous things a fly on the wall heard in the Pistons' locker room during the break.
Whatever was said, something registered. The third quarter was much better. The Pistons looked alive -- and it wasn't because I had just finished watching my DVR'd episode of Sunday's The Walking Dead. The Pistons were moving the ball around on offense, rather than just settling for isolations after a single pass, and they were playing suffocating defense.
Josh Smith deserves a ton of credit for the comeback in the third (even if he was a big part of the problem in the first half). He was actually fun to watch in the third! He had eight points, a couple slick assists and a block, and he really disrupted a lot of what Chicago tried to do offensively. All of his talent being realized in one tiny peephole. The Bulls shot 31 percent in the quarter and the Pistons set themselves up for a legitimate comeback opportunity in the fourth quarter by chipping the game to eight, 78-70.
Behind some strong defense and some big buckets, the Pistons managed to cut the deficit all the way down to two with 2:43 to play in the game, but Pau Gasol drained a jumper in Andre Drummond's foul-troubled eye to put it back to four and then Josh Smith thought it'd be a good idea to try his second three-pointer of the game at the worst time. Nope, it was a terrible idea -- it's always a terrible idea for him to try any three-pointers. The Bulls grabbed the long rebound after the loud Smiss and soaked a triple on the other end. Seven-point game with under two to play. Game over. And if you don't want to say it was over then, Derrick Rose's jumper a minute later said it was.
While Smith did have a good game defensively, he was more than destructive on offense (again). Three of his biggest offensive errors came in the fourth quarter, including a missed long-two when he could've passed it into the paint to Monroe and the aforementioned three, more than nullifying any good that he had done in the game.
Andre Drummond didn't help any matters, getting blanked in the field-goals-made department and not imposing any fear on defense. He fouled out with 9.7 seconds remaining in the game with two points and 12 quiet rebounds.
The Bulls' big men, Joakim Noah and Gasol, had 30 points and 29 rebounds combined. Gasol had four blocks.
Rose had 24 points.
The Pistons missed nine of their 25 free throws, six of which came from guards. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who struggled forcing his shots again, missed 2-of-4 freebies, dipping his season average to a woeful 63 percent (10-16).
I thought Brandon Jennings played a really strong third quarter on both the offensive and defensive end, even if he was only 1-for-4 shooting in the third. He did not play a single minute in the fourth quarter.
Another Jonas Jerebko DNP-CD. *scowl*