Head coach of the 2004 champions Larry Brown told these Detroit Pistons in the locker room after Saturday night's huge win over last year's champs on Ben Wallace night to "validate" the win. Basically, make that win their turning point and go on to show that it wasn't just a team riding the Big Ben wave of emotions that night. Follow it up with more of the same...
Welp, that didn't happen in the Martin Luther King Day Monday matinee at The Palace against a reeling Chicago Bulls, losing 111-101.
After shrugging off a couple turnovers and a missed three to start the game, the Pistons caught FIRE, hitting on more than 70-percent of their shots in the first eight minutes of the game, but the Bulls also got hot and for the most part controlled the game after falling behind by as many as 13 early on.
Pau Gasol led the Bulls with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Derrick Rose had 20.
The Bulls used a 30-21 second quarter to take a three-point lead into the half while shooting 55-percent. One would reasonably think that Stan Van Gundy would light into his team for the poor defensive showing in the first half and get some results, but the Bulls came out in the third quarter with a quick 6-0 run to extend the lead to nine and force a quick timeout.
The Pistons came back to tie the game at 79-79 and even take a brief lead on an and-one by Reggie Jackson before that, but then...well, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got ejected.
The Pistons were supposedly the victims of some bad officiating, as a couple calls obviously got the best of often level-headed KCP. Both teams finished with the same number of free throw attempts, though, so it's fair to criticize the young Pistons for not doing a better job keeping their cool. After KCP got ejected, the Bulls outscored the Pistons by eight.
Andre Drummond finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova was great early and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Reggie Jackson needed 20 shots to score 19.
The Pistons hit the road now for three the rest of the week, starting with a back-to-back in Houston and then Denver on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.