LaVine Debuts, Bulls beat Pistons

The Bulls Saturday got Zach LaVine back with an impressive return and a victory as well in a celebratory night and 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons.

The Bulls in a thrilling finish survived a Reggie Bullock drive at the basket after a turnover that would have tied the game.

The Bulls are 16-27 and the Pistons are 22-19.

The Bulls were led by Lauri Markkanen with a short baseline jumper that gave the Bulls their final lead of the game and then the defensive rebound on the Detroit last shot.

Kris Dunn had 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and also a big defensive rebound down the stretch. LaVine had 14 points in just 19 minutes. Bobby Portis had 15 points off the bench and Nikola Mirotic 16. Robin Lopez had 12 with six Bulls players scoring in double figures.

The Bulls were 17 of 36 on threes.

The Bulls were back at full strength, rare for the team in the last five years with both LaVine and Mirotic back. The Bulls charted the game’s first play for LaVine and he responded with a three pointer in getting the Bulls off to a flying start that led to a 36-31 first quarter lead. LaVine made a pull up jumper and left with 7:57 remaining in the first quarter with the Bulls leading 14-11. Markkanen continued to find the three-point range as the Bulls chased the Pistons into a timeout with an impressive display of fast break ball and 15-4 run for a 10-point lead late in the quarter with Lopez scoring a dozen and drawing gasps with a baseline slam dunk. The Bulls were six of seven on threes in the quarter. LaVine was back to open the second quarter with the second group, which opened up a quick 42-34 lead. Mirotic pitched in a pair of threes and LaVine showed his versatility with a strong drive and reverse layup as the Bulls led 53-46 with 5:02 left in the first half. The Pistons then went on a 10-2 run to take a 56-55 lead with the Bulls going through a stretch of nine possessions with one score, the last three all Dunn missed threes. Detroit led 61-60 at halftime. Avery Bradley had 19 points with five three pointers. The Bulls were nine of 17 on threes and the Pistons eight of 15 at the half. Lopez had 12 and Markkanen 11. LaVine had seven points and two assists. The Bulls had 10 fast break points.

After the Pistons opened the second half with a 69-66 lead, the Bulls threw their offense into gear with an 11-0 run highlighted by one of the best sequences of the season. Markkanen intercepted the Pistons trying to save a ball inbounds. He dribbled out to Holiday, who got a touch pass back to Markkanen for a three-point play. The Bulls led 77-69 before Bradley connected again. LaVine made another three and filled out his 20 minutes through three quarters as the Bulls led 87-84 going into the fourth quarter. Detroit took a 90-87 lead, but then the Bulls got the three pointers going from both Mirotic and Portis for a 100-95 lead with 5:42 left in the game. They combined for all the Bulls fourth quarter points in those first six minutes. But before the Bulls could get Lopez back in, the Pistons took advantage with Andre Drummond second shots for a 6-0 run and led 103-102 with 2:25 left. Detroit still lead 105-104 with an out of bounds review with 1:10 left that was overturned for the Bulls before Markkanen’s jumper gave the Bulls a 106-105 lead with a minute remaining.