Pistons hit ‘replay’ button, use another 2nd-half surge to bulldoze Bulls
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Three quick observations from Sunday afternoon’s 131-108 win over the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena
INSTANT REPLAY – The Pistons moved their clocks ahead one hour overnight, then moved them back about 40 hours to Friday night and basically did a repeat – flat first half, though not quite to the extremes that saw them build a 21-point deficit for themselves at Chicago, dominant second half. A 42-point third quarter, their highest-scoring third quarter of the season, turned a six-point halftime lead into a 23-point cushion going into the fourth quarter. That was enough to earn the fourth quarter off for Blake Griffin (28 points on 10 of 14 shooting, six rebounds, five assists in 27 minutes), Andre Drummond (16 points, 15 rebounds in 30 minutes) and Reggie Jackson (21 points, 5 of 8 3-point shooting, six assists) – a big deal given the significance of Monday’s game at Brooklyn, where the winner will be in the No. 6 playoff spot. A 13-3 run to close the second quarter gave the Pistons a five-point halftime lead despite allowing the Bulls to shoot 50 percent and 58 percent (7 of 12) from the 3-point arc in the first half. One measure of how little pressure the Pistons put on the ball in the first half: Chicago’s three turnovers. But the Pistons knocked down 10 of 16 3-pointers in the half with Langston Galloway going 3 of 3. That extended Galloway’s streak to nine straight made 3-pointers. He pushed it to 11 straight with two late in the third quarter, the latter giving the Pistons a 23-point lead, and to 12 with one more in the fourth quarter. The Pistons are now 8-1 since the All-Star break with five straight wins. The Pistons’ 34 assists were a season high.
NICKED UP – So much for the run of good health so important to the Pistons in turning their season around over the past month. Rookie Bruce Brown missed the game with a sprained right ankle. His loss was somewhat mitigated by the absence of Bulls leading scorer Zach LaVine, the player Brown guarded in Friday’s win at Chicago, with knee pain. Brown was listed as probable on the injury report issued before the game. Glenn Robinson III drew the start with Wayne Ellington swinging back to his more familiar spot at shooting guard in Brown’s stead. Reggie Jackson was listed as questionable on the injury report with a sprained right thumb, but he started even though he didn’t go through pregame warmups with the rest of the Pistons. Jackson didn’t emerge from the tunnel to the locker room until after the national anthem was performed. Zaza Pachulia was listed as probable but also didn’t play, though he was in uniform. Pachulia hasn’t played in the last three games due to right Achilles inflammation. Jon Leuer took backup center minutes and finished with seven points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.
FOUL FOIL ELLINGTON – Wayne Ellington continues to pay dividends and show signs of hitting his stride after a slow start with the Pistons, but what appeared to be his breakthrough game was short-circuited by foul trouble. Ellington knocked down all four of his shots in eight minutes of the first quarter, two of them triples, and had 10 points when he headed to the bench with two fouls. He finished with 13 points in 15 minutes, hitting 5 of 6 shots and 3 of 4 from the 3-point arc. Ellington got hit with his third foul eight seconds after returning in the second quarter, forced to sit the rest of the first half. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Ellington again went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul. Ellington played in only five of 21 games from Christmas until being traded to Phoenix and bought out by the Suns ahead of signing with the Pistons last month. He needed time to get back in game shape and establish something of a rhythm. After hitting 6 of 26 3-point shots in his first three games with the Pistons, Ellington has made 22 of 50, 44 percent.