There was no point in Sunday’s game where I would say that the Chicago Bulls were playing well. The fact that even when playing an all-around subpar game, they were easily able to outclass the Detroit Pistons is a major red flag for Detroit. The 119-108 loss for Detroit gives them sole possession of the worst record in the NBA. I’m not sure if or when they will relinquish that title at any point this season.
Every Detroit Pistons starter played on a spectrum from inconsistent and disappointing, to disengaged to outright bad. The bench, save for new addition Kevin Knox (18 points on 7-of-8 shooting) and newly healthy Alec Burks (16 points) also played terribly.
There was not a moment in this game when it felt like the Pistons had any chance of pulling out a victory over the Bulls. This is despite the fact that the Pistons led by as many as 11, and their deficit hovered around 4 to 8 points routinely.
The offense was a mess, the shooting was non-existent, the turnovers remained frustratingly high (16 on the night to just seven for the Bulls), and the execution, and lack thereof, was baffling.
On a night when two bad teams played poorly, the difference in the game was that Chicago had veterans it could lean on in DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, and the Pistons had ... Knox.
DeRozan and, to a lesser extent, LaVine were able to transcend their team’s lack of execution and will their team to points. Self-creating buckets and executing when it was absolutely crucial for their team to score. DeRozan had 29 points, including two rare threes, ad LaVine had 19 points, including a crucial 3 out of a timeout just when Detroit was creeping back into the game.
Cade Cunningham certainly isn’t that kind of player in year three. He was just 4-of-15 and looked absolutely out of sorts for most of the night, and that seemed to trickle down to the rest of his teammates. It wasn’t Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes who were largely ignored and scored inefficiently on the night. It wasn’t Ausar Thompson who can’t really shoot and works best in transition or off cuts.
This team doesn’t work. The starting lineup doesn’t work. The bench doesn’t work. Some, and hopefully most, of that has to do with Detroit being ravaged by injuries. Maybe things look different with Bojan Bogdanovic and Monte Morris firmly entrenched in the rotation. Maybe whatever the heck is going on with Jaden Ivey (just 6 points in 11 minutes) will pay dividends and he’ll be a difference-maker. And the sooner Jalen Duren (sidelined with nagging ankle issues) comes back the better because James Wiseman remains an absolute disaster on defense and is barely better than that on offense. The number of miscommunications fumbled passes, and poor decisions tonight from Wiseman in just 14 bench minutes was pretty astounding.
This is a bad basketball team. This is a sad basketball team. I’m not sure how it’s going to be anything different this season.