Pistons’ Bullock delivers in return to rotation

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Reggie Bullock

Auburn Hills — Among good shooters, the cliché is just seeing one shot go in can get them on a roll.

For Reggie Bullock, it had been a long time since that happened.

But his day was coming. He just didn’t think it would be 101 days between them.

Bullock, a reserve wing, hadn’t made a basket since Nov. 15 — his only one this season. He more than made up for lost time with a career-best 16 points, helping the Pistons top the 76ers, 111-91, on Wednesday night.

Taking over for the injured Stanley Johnson, Bullock shot 6-for-9, including three 3-pointers, in 26 minutes — his longest stint this season.

“I just tried to be aggressive and take my same shots and try not to do anything out of the ordinary; just try to be consistent and efficient, defend and help my teammates out as much as possible” Bullock said Thursday. “My teammates want me to shoot the ball every time I’m open. They believe in my shot, so I tried to knock down those shots when they came to me. It just worked out for me.”

After coming to the Pistons along with Marcus Morris from the Suns in a summer trade, Bullock had increased expectations after a solid camp, but his production wilted during the season.

He played in 10 of the first 15 games, but coach Stan Van Gundy relegated Bullock to the bench when he couldn’t get things going.

“My shots weren’t falling and I was just being a spot-up shooter,” Bullock said. “I was going in with a little bit of minutes but to go 0-for-3 and those didn’t bring anything to the game. I did that for four or five games and fell out of the rotation.

“Coach went a different direction so I had to get my confidence back, sent me down to the D-League and I played well down there.”

Bullock had played in two games since Jan. 4, and although he worked in practice to stay sharp, that didn’t translate into playing time. Johnson had locked up the backup spot at shooting guard, so Bullock bounced back and forth in the D-League with the Grand Rapids Drive.

When Johnson suffered a shoulder sprain Monday, Bullock knew his chance had come.

“Reggie always plays to his strengths and he knows who he is,” Van Gundy said. “He’s got to defend and he’s got to make open shots. He certainly made open shots (Wednesday). Those are the two things that really make him a good player.”

Making strides

Twenty-two free throws. Twelve makes.

Fifty-five percent.

It’s a small sample size of two games, but for Andre Drummond, it’s a marked improvement at the free-throw line.

Drummond, who is shooting 35 percent this season, was 8-for-14 against the Cavaliers and 4-for-8 against the 76ers.

“I’m just shooting them with confidence,” Drummond said. “I’ve been working on them and I’ve been telling you guys it’s going to come. I just shoot the same shot all the time and I’m going to find the touch and it’s going to go in.”