Pistons lose Drummond to ejection, play catch up and fall short to Bulls
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Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 108-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena
TOSSED, LOST – Things were already going poorly for the Pistons when Andre Drummond was ejected early in the third quarter, tossing the basketball off of Daniel Gafford’s head after Gafford scored over him and taunted Drummond by screaming in his ear. Each earned technical fouls with Drummond being ejected after a protracted review. The Pistons went on an 8-0 run after the ejection and pulled within two points after trailing by 18 in the first half. But Derrick Rose had to sit eventually and when he did, the offense bogged down and Chicago pushed its lead back to 10 entering the fourth quarter. Rose’s return to start the quarter perked the offense back up – the Pistons pulled within four with nine minutes left and within two with seven minutes remaining – but the Pistons didn’t have enough firepower without Drummond on top of the injury absences of Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson. The Pistons wrapped up their season series with the Bulls at 0-4 and now have only three games with division rivals left over the season’s final 42 games. The Pistons 3-1 vs. Indiana. They’re 2-1 against Cleveland and 0-2 against Milwaukee. Bulls backup big man Luke Kornet, who didn’t play in any of the first three Pistons-Bulls matchups this season, established a season high in points in just six first-quarter minutes, hitting his first five shots including a pair of triples for 12 points. It was during that stretch when Chicago went on a 20-4 run to seize control.
ROSE WATCH – The Pistons have been hypervigilant about wear and tear on Derrick Rose, keeping him to under 30 minutes in every game until this week. Rose played a season-high 31 minutes in Tuesday’s win at Cleveland then blew past that to play 36 minutes – overtime exacerbated the issues caused by a thin point guard depth chart – in Thursday’s loss to the Cavs. Rose was given Friday off and the team’s medical staff checked in with him Saturday to gauge how he responded. Dwane Casey used Rose for just 10 minutes in Saturday’s first half, opening the door to either use him for about 18 minutes in the second half if needed or back off and give him a light night if the game wasn’t especially close in the fourth quarter. Rose was at 18 minutes through three quarters. Casey started him in the fourth, but gave him a break after a timeout at 7:37, having him return at 6:32. Rose looked spry, finishing with 20 points and seven assists on 7 of 11 shooting in 29 minutes. The other Pistons player who saw his minutes spike above the norm in Thursday’s overtime was Andre Drummond, who played 49 minutes – including all 29 minutes after halftime. His ejection eliminated any chance of overextending Drummond.
GRAND RAPIDS SHUTTLE – The Pistons wave of injuries has had the ripple effect of robbing the Grand Rapids Drive of star power. Sekou Doumbouya has graduated to the Pistons starting lineup with the injury losses of Blake Griffin and – until his Saturday return – Markieff Morris. Doumbouya made his sixth straight start. After a run of nothing but All-Stars in his matchups over the first five games – Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, LeBron James and Kevin Love twice – this time the terms were a little more even. Doumbouya was matched against 2017 lottery pick Laurie Markkanen. Doumbouya was the FIRST Pistons starter to score in double figures – but it took until the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter to get there. He wound up with 12 points in 29 minutes. Morris, meanwhile, looked like someone who hadn’t played in more than two weeks. He finished with three points and three rebounds in 14 minutes but missed all seven of his shots, including three 3-pointers. The Pistons also recalled Jordan Bone from Grand Rapids for Saturday’s game. Bone would have been with the Pistons on their recent six-game road trip, Dwane Casey said, had he not suffered a knee injury at last month’s G League Showcase. Louis King, like Bone playing on a two-way contract, was sent to the Drive after Thursday’s game to get him some playing time.