It just felt like a play that set the tone.
The Detroit Pistons won the opening tip, Mason Plumlee tapping the ball back toward three of his teammates. What should have been a forgettable moment quickly turned into a highlight as Chicago Bulls rookie Patrick Williams intercepted the tap, dribbled, and threw down a huge dunk to open the game.
Detroit trailed 2-0.
It wasn’t the reason they lost on Sunday, but it was a microcosm of the night: Chicago found ways to score and made plays, the Pistons spent most of the night trying, and failing, to figure that out themselves.
The Bulls finished the first half with a burst and never looked back, leading by as many as 18, in a 100-86 win over the Pistons.
This was one of Detroit’s worst offensive games of the season as they shot just 38% from the field and a truly deplorable 12% from 3-point range. This all came against the same Bulls who rank 23rd in the NBA in field goal percentage allowed and give up 114 points per game.
I mean, there was a time midway through the third quarter, the Chicago lead ballooning to double-figures, where I thought to myself, “Man, they need to get Isaiah Stewart in there for some offense.”
It was that kind of night.
However, Stewart had the best all-around night for the Pistons with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. He dunked, he hit the midrange jumper, he nailed yet another three. He was in the right place at the right time on both ends.
His feel for the game has really improved, and you can tell things are starting to slow down for him out there. He’s making the right reads on defense and is surprisingly adept in the pick-and-pop game. He still needs work on the pick-and-roll, but baby steps.
The problem was, well, everybody else.
Detroit got nothing out of its guards. The Frank Jackson experience came to a screeching halt as he struggled with his shot and didn’t really offer much else, missing 7 of his 12 attempts for 12 points. He shouldn’t be shooting as much as he is, but somebody’s gotta try to help take the burden off Jerami Grant.
Grant scored 12 points in the first half, picking up where he left off last time these teams faced off. After watching him torch Lauri Markkanen, Bulls coach Billy Donovan made the smart decision — switch Williams onto Grant.
Combine that with the fact that nobody else could score for Detroit and Chicago proceeded to threw waves of defenders at Grant, who finished with 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting.
Williams was all-around good for Chicago. You can see why Troy Weaver was high on him coming into the draft: he’s big, strong, athletic, and surprisingly quick.
The other rookie wing on the court, Saddiq Bey, struggled mightily. He’s had some huge games recently, and when he’s on his game, it’s loud—you know he’s out there. When the shots aren’t falling, you can forget he’s on the court.
That was the case tonight as he missed all seven of his shots.
Josh Jackson was similarly bad, missing 11 of 12, while Delon Wright scored the quietest 8 points you’ll see.
It’s just too easy for teams to pack it in on Grant when there’s nobody else around to make them pay. That goes beyond being able to simply hit an open three — you need guys who can do something off the bounce.
That wasn’t there tonight.
It’ll be better when Killian Hayes and Hamidou Diallo are out there, I think. In the meantime, games like this, in a lost season, leave you wanting more. Losses are fine, but if a fine effort from Beef Stew against a blah team like the Bulls is all you have after a blowout? That’s tough.