After 4-day break, Pistons strength – their shooting – goes awry in loss to Bulls
Three quick observations on Wednesday night’s 109-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls at United Center
THIRD-QUARTER DISASTER – The sluggish start might have been expected after a four-day gap between games, but the Pistons rebounded from an early 19-6 deficit just fine, taking the lead with a 22-5 run before settling for a four-point halftime deficit. The slow start to the third quarter was fatal. It was more than a slow start, it was a quarter – and a whole second half, really – that never really saw them get going. The Pistons scored 16 points in the third quarter, trailing by 13 when it ended, by shooting 3 of 21 overall and 1 of 7 from the 3-point arc. They hit 9 of 10 free throws to prevent it from being a complete wipeout. The Pistons scored on just 1 of their first 11 possessions and made just 2 of their first 19 shots of the quarter in falling behind by 14 points. When the Bulls opened the fourth quarter by scoring the first five points to expand the Pistons deficit to 18, it was a hole too deep for a sputtering offense and a shorthanded team missing starters Tony Snell and Reggie Jackson. After starting the game making 6 of 12 from the 3-point arc, the Pistons – No. 2 in 3-point percentage coming into the game at .405 – went 1 of 19 before Blake Griffin hit one with about five minutes to play. The Pistons made just eight second-half field goals while shooting 24 percent and scoring 34 points. The loss was the fifth straight for the Pistons, four coming on the road.
WAITING ON BLAKE – The Pistons suspected that Blake Griffin wasn’t going to return immediately as the All-NBA player who carried them to the playoffs last season after off-season knee surgery that subsequently led to him missing the first 10 games of the season. Griffin has struggled with his shooting – he went 2 of 11 from the 3-point arc in his first two games back and 1 of 5 at Chicago, shooting 4 of 15 overall after a 1 of 7 first half – and his timing, so precise when he’s right, in the post. His lateral movement still appears to be affected and Griffin is having more difficulty getting his shots around the rim off, a sign his explosion is still not quite there. For all of that, Griffin’s savviness and the respect he generates still meant he got to the line to shoot nine free throws. Griffin finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, playing 30 minutes.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT – Dwane Casey made transition defense, defense in general and turnovers points of emphasis during the four-day break that included three consecutive practice days since the Pistons last played on Friday. They came into the game tied for 27th in turnovers, committing, 17.5 per game, but coughed it up just six times in the first half before tacking on six more in the third quarter and finishing with 17. Chicago came into the game leading the NBA in both producing turnovers (18.9 per game) and converting turnovers into points (21.9). The Bulls wound up with 24 points off of turnovers and 18 fast-break points. Blake Griffin committed a team-high four turnovers. Andre Drummond, Langston Galloway and Derrick Rose committed three apiece.