Auburn Hills — Reggie Jackson got to show some leadership qualities for a team that eventually will be his to run.
The newest Pistons point guard encouraged teammates, jumped off the bench after good plays and stood in the huddle as coach Stan Van Gundy barked instructions to his team.
But the real leader Friday night was an unlikely one. Rookie Spencer Dinwiddie, in his first career start, outplayed Bulls star Derrick Rose during the Pistons' improbable 100-91 victory.
It was improbable because the Pistons (22-33) were shorthanded and played a healthy Bulls team (34-21) that has title aspirations while the Pistons are scrambling just to make the playoffs.
Dinwiddie, the comedian, was no joke on this night. He finished with 12 points, nine assists and three steals while his more famous counterpart Rose had eight points and two assists and was just 2-for-9 from the field. It was the type of performance that Dinwiddie can tell the grandkids about when he is older.
He finished the game with a nice fast break pass to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope,who brought the house down with a tomahawk dunk.
Dinwiddie was calm and found the open man on fast breaks, and he did not panic late when the Bulls pressured him up the floor. Instead of trying to be a hero he found the right man in the right spot and led the Pistons to the free-throw line.
"I was just trying to win the game. That is really all you can do," Dinwiddie said. "I didn't want to be the rookie that messed it up. We are fighting for something great. We have a chance to do something great. They were not asking me to score 30, they were asking me to be myself and do what I do in practice and try to get the win."
One of Dinwiddie's biggest fans is his newest teammate. Jackson cheered his every move and said he's always known Dinwiddie to be a good player. He admired his moves at the University of Colorado and was sad to see a knee injury sideline him earlier.
"He is confident and he played well," Jackson said of Dinwiddie. "He facilitates for others. There is not really much he can't do. I will definitely be on him and coach him to get better and I am sure he will push me to get better. He will be a special player in this league."
It was the Pistons' first game following an extended All-Star break. They left The Palace a week ago with weary legs and returned fresh. Their next mission is to get Jackson up to speed with a brisk informational practice Saturday before returning to the Palace Sunday for a 3:30 p.m. game against the Washington Wizards.
It is likely to be Jackson's debut as he takes on John Wall at point guard.
The Pistons were down to 10 players after shipping out Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin and draft picks to obtain Tayshaun Prince, who was not at the game, and Jackson for the stretch run.
This was a learning experience and a night of encouragement for Dinwiddie. He didn't do anything spectacular but played within himself after a few shaky moments of indecision to begin the game. He caught Rose on an off night and took advantage.
Van Gundy said he was curious to see how Dinwiddie would perform after two solid practices.
"Our issue with him has been his motor and his pace," Van Gundy said. "I thought he made a real effort the last two practices to pick that up. I thought he pushed the ball on the break. He attacked on the pick and rolls. He has size. He has skills. It is just getting his motor going."
Andre Drummond's motor was going, too. He led the Pistons with 18 points and 20 rebounds. Greg Monroe added 20 points and six rebounds while Caron Butler also scored 20 in his first start as a Piston.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 30 points and five assists. Taj Gibson added 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The Pistons might have put the Bulls away earlier if not for their 18-for-33 free throw shooting.