Hot start, Grant’s career-high 43 not enough as Bulls come back to knock off Pistons
Randy Belice (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 105-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls at United Center
STARS SHOOTOUT – The Pistons got less than 30 hours of notice that they’d be playing at Chicago – and not at Dallas, as planned – on Wednesday night. It didn’t look like the last-minute change of plans threw them off when they sprinted to a 25-point lead late in the first half. But after scoring 61 points in the first 22 minutes, the Pistons managed just 12 in the next 14 and they clung to a three-point lead after three quarters. Then it became a shootout between two players making a case for being NBA All-Stars. Jerami Grant scored 19 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter, trading big baskets down the stretch with Zach LaVine for the Bulls. LaVine scored 14 of his 37 points in the third quarter when the Bulls made their move. In the final 62 seconds, though, the Bulls got 3-pointers from Coby White and Patrick Williams – each coming after driving layups from Grant had pulled the Pistons within a point and two points – to hold off a late Pistons charge. Delon Wright had a chance to force overtime but his triple hit the front rim at the buzzer. Grant came into the game averaging 23.0 points for the season but just 13.0 over the last three games, though the Pistons were 2-1 in those games. But he scored 18 in a first half in which he was perfect on four 3-point attempts. Grant hit 15 of 25 shots, but the Pistons – who shot 56 percent in the first half – shot only 32.5 percent in the second half and scored 12 third-quarter points.
ROTATION NOTATIONS – With Blake Griffin out of the mix and Sekou Doumbouya still recovering from a concussion that’s caused him to miss the past three games, Dwane Casey went with a nine-man rotation. Rookie Saddiq Bey remained in the starting lineup with Jerami Grant sliding to power forward. Josh Jackson was the first sub, replacing Bey just past the midway point of the first and third quarters with Bey then subbing in for Grant later. Dennis Smith Jr. played his longest stints since joining the Pistons, going for 10 minutes in the first half and nearly eight more in the second. Smith finished with 10 points, hitting 4 of 9 shots. Casey even played Smith and Delon Wright overlapping minutes, manageable given Wright’s versatility. Svi Mykhailiuk and Isaiah Stewart were the other two players Casey used off the bench, but neither scored.
WRIGHT STUFF – Delon Wright has settled in as the Pistons starting point guard after beginning the season starting next to rookie Killian Hayes. He came into the game with an assists-to-turnovers ratio of 4.16:1, ranking fifth in the NBA. He also came into the game with a rare positive ratio of steals (37) to turnovers (32). Wright was at the center of the strong start for the Pistons, scoring eight first-quarter points while hitting all three of his shots. He finished with 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and three more steals against two turnovers. Over the previous five games coming into Chicago, Wright’s averages were 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists while shooting 60 percent.