Pistons at Bulls Game Preview - December 7, 2013
Even without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls have shown they can be an elite team if they defend and rebound at a high level.
That formula has served them well in years past when Rose has been out, and it's what the Bulls will look to do for the remainder of the season with their star guard sidelined because of another knee injury.
Chicago will continue that approach against a team it's dominated in recent years when it hosts the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
Facing two-time defending NBA champion Miami on Thursday, the Bulls defended and rebounded as well as they have all season. Chicago (8-9) held the high-scoring Heat to 41.6 percent shooting, Miami's lowest of 2013-14, and won the rebounding battle 49-27.
The Bulls also had 24 second-chance points and assisted on 24 of 37 field goals in a 107-87 victory.
"We never really took our foot off the gas pedal," guard Kirk Hinrich told the team's official website. "I think it was our most consistent defensive game, our most consistent rebounding game, our most consistent game moving the ball and making it hop."
The Bulls are among the league leaders in field-goal percentage defense (42.3) and rebounds per game (46.5), but they only average 95.3 points.
"To see a win like this is good for the team moving forward, helps everyone's confidence," said forward Luol Deng, who is averaging 26.2 points in six games since Rose went down. "It reminds everyone to believe in what we are doing."
The good news for the Bulls is that they have owned the Pistons (9-10)recently, especially at home. The Bulls have taken the last 14 regular-season meetings in Chicago by an average of 11.1 points and have won 19 of 20 matchups overall, including a 99-79 road victory Nov. 27.
The Pistons lead the NBA with 14.1 offensive rebounds per game and average 99.9 points, but when they met Chicago last month, poor outside shooting cost them. Detroit went 2 of 12 from 3-point range and was outscored 48-26 in the second half.
This is the last stop on a three-game road trip for the Pistons. Detroit has already beaten the Heat and Milwaukee, and will be looking to win its fourth straight overall and on the road.
The Pistons haven't won four consecutive away games since a five-game stretch Dec. 19, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008.
"It feels really good," coach Maurice Cheeks said of the road success. "I think we are playing good basketball. We are getting a lot of good performances out of a lot of people."
The Pistons' frontcourt has been on a tear lately. Center Andre Drummond is averaging 21.7 points and 18.7 rebounds over the last three games, forward Greg Monroe had 18 points and a season-best 17 boards against the Bucks and Josh Smith is averaging 17.3 points in the past three.
"We are really starting to jell," Drummond said. "We're starting to find ourselves and find an identity for ourselves."
Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for just 28 points in the first meeting with Chicago, which was led by Deng's 27.