Bulls fall to Pistons, 117-95

The Bulls Saturday without many regulars and carrying a heavy recent workload went into Detroit and predictably sputtered, falling behind by double digits in the first quarter and never recovering in a 117-95 loss.

The Bulls now get a pair of off days before heading to Houston, Miami and Orlando next week. The Bulls close with five of their last nine games on the road before he last game of their season April 11 in the United Center against these Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons raised their record to 33-40 with their second win over the Bulls this month. But the Pistons in ninth place in the Eastern Conference are close to being eliminated from the playoffs. The Bulls now at 24-49 already have been officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Denzel Valentine led the Bulls in scoring for the second consecutive game, this time with 18 points. David Nwaba had 13 and Noah Vonleh had 12 points. Four Bulls players each had 10 points, Cameron Payne, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio and Jerian Grant, the latter who also had 10 assists. Portis’ run of seven straight games with at least 15 points ended. Felicio had his fifth straight game scoring in double figures. Felicio led with nine rebounds.

Lauri Markkanen after returning Friday was out because of the back to back. Though he seemed to come through the game in good health. Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine remained out with injuries. Antonio Blakeney is out for the season with a wrist injury. Robin Lopez was back starting along with Justin Holiday for the second time since the lineup changes after the All-Star game. Felicio started the second half for Lopez. The Bulls came into Detroit having lost four straight. Reggie Jackson was back for Detroit after missing most of the last two months with injury. It was the last heavy schedule stretch for the Bulls with Saturday being the third game in four days and fifth game in the last eight nights. And the Pistons took advantage and motored out ahead to start with threes the difference, the Bulls’ going wrong and the Pistons right into the basket for an 11-2 lead and Bulls time out. The Bulls finally answered with their own threes from Holiday and starter Vonleh. Though Paul Zipser was back after missing one game with that foot pain again. But the Pistons were dominant with eight of 15 three pointers in the first quarter, five among Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver for a 36-22 Pistons lead after one quarter. The Pistons pushed out to a 20-point lead on another Tolliver three midway through the second quarter and led the Bulls 66-47 at halftime. Valentine, who had a nice full court assist to close the first half, had 11 points to lead the Bulls at half, but the Pistons shot 57 percent and Andre Drummond had 13 rebounds through halftime. Tolliver had 16 in the first half. The Pistons had 21 first half assists.

The Bulls made some progress in the third quarter, especially after a sequence of four offensive rebounds on one possession that led to a Nwaba score. Payne followed that with a driving score to bring the Bulls within 74-63 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. But Nwaba then was called for a questionable flagrant foul on a driving Drummond and the Pistons followed it up with Bullock and Tolliver threes to regain a 20-point lead. The Pistons then went into the fourth quarter leading 95-76 with 23 points ad six of nine threes from Tolliver. The Pistons had 30 assists through three quarters against a porous Bulls defense.