Auburn Hills — In the first two meetings this season, the Pistons eked out a pair of wins against the Chicago Bulls by a combined seven points.
That included five extra periods — with four overtimes in the 147-144 marathon win at the United Center on Dec. 18.
Monday’s matinee matchup was another close one — until the final minutes — but they didn’t need any extra periods to determine the outcome.
The Bulls surged at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth behind Pau Gasol and captured a 111-101 victory at The Palace.
Ersan Ilyasova and Reggie Jackson had 19 points apiece and Andre Drummond added 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons (22-19), who have lost three of four.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy challenged his team to follow up Saturday’s marquee win over the defending-champion Golden State Warriors with a solid effort — and they had one of their best energy games of the season — at least for part of the first quarter.
“We didn’t defend — that was the main thing. We started the game pretty well with our starters, we went to the bench and the bench didn’t have anything going today,” Van Gundy said. “We got crushed with the bench and then after that we just got pretty well taken apart for the rest of the game.”
With the early energy came plenty of emotion, as the Pistons got three technical fouls — including two on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (14 points), who was ejected late in the third period after arguing with officials about a foul call.
“We need to leave the refs alone,” Brandon Jennings said. “We haven’t done much in this league to be able to fuss at the refs or that we deserve calls.”
Without Caldwell-Pope, their best defensive player, the Pistons struggled to get stops, as the Bulls converted 56 percent of their field goals in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls (24-16) took an 83-79 lead into the final period, but Aron Baynes tied it with a pair of hooks to start the fourth quarter. Chicago answered with a 3-pointer by Nikola Meretic and a hook by Taj Gibson. Marcus Morris (18 points) hit a pair of free throws and Baynes followed with another hook, but the Bulls went on a 7-0 spurt, as Gibson hit a jumper, Doug McDermott added a triple and Aaron Brooks a lay-in to extend the lead to eight.
Drummond split a pair of free throws and Gasol (31 points, 12 rebounds) hit a corner triple to make it a 98-88 advantage with 6:01 remaining. Gasol finished 13-of-18 from the field and 4-of-5 on free throws.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and others talk about the importance of the NBA playing games on Martin Luther King Day.
The Pistons got within seven with 4:25 remaining, but Drummond fouled Gasol on a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring. After an official review, the shot attempt and foul occurred before the buzzer and Gasol made all three free throws, boosting the lead back to 10.
“Paul was obviously unbelievable all night long and I thought our guys did a great job of finding him and setting screens on Drummond,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Drummond’s a monster at the rim and it’s hard to get the ball there, but our guys did a good job depending on him and that did open up the lane.”
Derrick Rose (20 points) made a couple of big baskets down the stretch and the Bulls held on to get their first win of the season in the series.
Caldwell-Pope got his second technical foul with 7.6 seconds left in the third quarter, following the first at the 9:33 mark of the second quarter. He had one technical entering the game.
Drummond also got a technical foul — his sixth of the season — for arguing a foul call in the second period.
The Pistons had one of their best shooting quarters of the season, hitting 68 percent (15-of-22) from the field in the first period.
Jimmy Butler (16 points, nine assists) hit a jumper just before the buzzer, giving the Bulls a 56-53 lead at halftime.