Pistons vs Bulls Game Preview - April 7, 2013
Regular Season Game #78No matter how many players are missing, the Chicago Bulls have pulled out victories in their last two games.
No matter how the Detroit Pistons' roster has changed over the last four-plus seasons, it's been that long since the club has beaten Chicago.
The Bulls will remain short-handed Sunday night, but they have won 18 straight over a Pistons team winding down another awful season that has coach Lawrence Frank wondering about his job status.
Chicago (42-33) has been without Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis), Richard Hamilton (back), Taj Gibson (sprained knee) and Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) for the last two games. The Bulls won 92-90 over Brooklyn on Thursday and 87-86 over Orlando on Friday to give them six victories in eight games.
Noah hasn't played during that stretch and Belinelli has missed the last seven, but they're the closest to returning among the Bulls' injured players.
"You can say we're short-handed," said center Nazr Mohammed, who has been starting in Noah's place. "We have some great players that are out but we try to lie to ourselves and say we're not short-handed and it's just the next person's opportunity to step up. We've been doing that and we want to continue to do that until our main guys get back."
The Bulls have waited all season for the debut of star Derrick Rose, but the Pistons have been waiting far longer than that for a victory over their Central Division rivals.
Detroit (25-52) has not beaten Chicago since Dec. 23, 2008, with Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell the only current Pistons to play in that contest. The only longer run for the Bulls in their history against any opponent was a 19-game streak over Detroit in the mid-1990s.
The Pistons are trying to avoid their first nine-game home skid since a 10-game slide in 1993-94. They will finish with their fifth straight losing season and fourth in a row without a playoff berth, and Frank's second season in Detroit could be his last.
"When you have a record like we have, it comes with the territory," Frank said before Saturday's 107-101 loss at Minnesota. "That's the nature of this business. It's results oriented."
Detroit has come close this season to ending its slide against Chicago, losing three meetings by a total of eight points. The Pistons led by as many as 17 points in a 108-104 defeat Dec. 7, again blew a 17-point advantage in an 85-82 loss Jan. 23 and let a 13-point lead slip away in last Sunday's 95-94 defeat.
Luol Deng has 50 points in two meetings while Nate Robinson has totaled 27 and 10 assists off the bench in the last two matchups.
Robinson sparked the win over the Magic with 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. He's averaging 17.9 over the past seven games.
"I'm not afraid to fail," he said. "You're going to have to fail a lot to succeed in this game. You can't be afraid to take that shot. And you can't be afraid to miss it or make it."
The Bulls are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Nets by 1 1/2 games in the race for home-court advantage in the first round.
Stuckey is averaging 20.0 points in the season series to lead Detroit.