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Pistons vs. Bulls final score: Pistons hang on to advance in Summer League playoffs, 72-66

It was a strong team effort led by Bruce Brown Jr. and Henry Ellenson.

NCAA Basketball: Miami at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons beat the Chicago Bulls in Saturday afternoon Summer League playoff action, 72-66, to move on to the next round where they’ll face the Los Angeles Lakers (bummer, Moe Wagner is injured) on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST.

The Pistons only managed 13 points in the first quarter, however from then on the ball moved crisply and for the most part shots fell. The Pistons defense was generally active and sound all game. Detroit had an 18 point lead in the second half only to see it trimmed to three late.

Antonio Blakeney, a shooting guard who played a handful of games for the Bulls last season (but mostly tore it up in the G League) scored 24 with most of it coming in the first half. Prized first round selection Wendell Carter Jr. rebounded the heck of of the ball (16 total) but couldn’t get much to go otherwise, shooting 1-8 from the field and 4-8 from the foul line.

Let’s go to the Pistons players:

Henry Ellenson

Everyone who has been paying attention to Pistons hoops this Summer League knows Henry is struggling.

Today there was some light available at the end of the tunnel, perhaps. Henry hit some shots in the first half, often having smaller players defend him off of switches. He ended the game 7-15 from the field. Henry is still quite three-point happy and prone to front rimming nearly all of his three-point attempts. Overall, Henry was active and made the right plays except for a couple cross court passes (and the impatient threes). Really wish Henry would never throw another cross court pass ever again. Eleven times out of ten it’s a turnover when Henry does it.

Bruce Brown Jr.

The rookie showed just about everything in his arsenal in the first half with nine points, four rebounds and two assists. In the second half Bruce couldn’t buy a bucket, yet he contributed in other ways. He’s aggressive, makes plays and seems to have a high IQ. His stand-still vertical when going after rebounds is impressive, I might add.

Bruce at the end of the first half:

Eric Griffin

The former Jazz two-way player in 2017 had a solid first half by finishing inside and contesting shots on defense. He held his own on defense against Wendell Carter Jr. in the second half while roughing him up some, too. Griffin knocked Wendell straight on his butt early in the fourth quarter and Wendell didn’t like it. Sure, Griffin may have hockey checked Wendell to the floor, but you have to like the intensity, as Griffin plays with an obvious edge.

Here’s the play I’m talking about:

Reggie Hearn

Reggie’s jumper was on today (it’s been trending better and better as Summer League has progressed), really taking advantage of several open looks. Hearn has a quick trigger and it’s tough to contest. Unfortunately I’m not sure if Hearn has much of a future in the NBA — there’s not much else he provides besides streaky shooting and normally turnover-free play as a somewhat undersized shooting guard.

Zach Lofton

Zach took a ton of shots in his 24 minutes of action as a bench guard, connecting on just 4-13. He’s a shooter and shooters are gonna shoot. I would say there’s some potential there for Lofton (shifty, good ball-handler on the perimeter, a pure scorer’s mentality) but him being 25 and having just completed his last season of eligibility for college ball doesn’t give me real positive feelings any NBA team sees a future for him in the league. Could be a Grand Rapids Drive candidate.

Johnny Hamilton

The seven-footer brought energy, length, and mobility in today’s game in 16 minutes. I talked Hamilton up big time in the Pistons Summer League primer, but for whatever reason (injuries?) he hasn’t played much in Summer League games until today. Hamilton could fill the void of Landry Nnoko’s departure from the Grand Rapids Drive.

Khyri Thomas

Tight hamstring, didn’t play.

Larry Drew II

Injured, didn’t play. Kenneth “Speedy” Smith started in Drew’s place and ran the team decently, although he couldn’t hit anything from the field. Khadeen Carrington, a point guard, also got more playing time than usual and did some positive things as well.