Bullock out with knee ailment; Johnson suspended one game
Auburn Hills — Pistons forward Reggie Bullock can’t seem to catch a break.
After battling back spasms and a hip pointer at the beginning of the season and not playing the first 12 games, Bullock suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee during the second quarter of Wednesday’s win over the Heat.
“We're struggling on the Reggie front this year,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said following the team’s shoot-around on Friday, also referencing starting guard Reggie Jackson. “We've been able to keep the other 13 guys healthy, but the Reggies are struggling.
“(Bullock) just got back and earned his way into the rotation. It's tough. We don't know exactly the timeline. We'll figure that out later (Friday), hopefully, on which way we're going to go.”
Bullock will be out indefinitely and will meet with team doctors to determine the best course of action. Van Gundy said Bullock is looking to get a second opinion early next week and surgery is a possibility.
“It's what they decide is best for him long-term and what the damage is,” Van Gundy said. “They may not know until they get in there either, but we'll see.”
It’s another tough blow for Bullock, who made an impact off the bench in his first three contests.
Drummond's defense helps Pistons end losing streak
He scored 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field, including 2-for-6 from 3-point range, with five rebounds, two blocks, one steal and one assist in roughly 40 minutes.
After getting off to sluggish start last season, Bullock suffered a broken nose in February before becoming a valuable bench contributor down the stretch. He was later sidelined with an inflamed nerve in his left leg for the final two games of the playoff series against the Cavaliers.
Bullock’s injury likely opens the door for forward Stanley Johnson and wing Darrun Hilliard to receive more minutes off the bench, and even possibly rookie guard Michael Gbinije.
"Reggie is a pretty even-keeled guy, so he's fine outwardly,” Van Gundy said. “But I know he's frustrated because he wasn't able to go at the beginning of the year and that caused him some time…It's just really unfortunate from him."
The Pistons recalled forward Henry Ellenson and Gbinije from the Pistons’ D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, on Friday.
Ellenson and Gbinije were assigned to the Drive on Wednesday and played in the team’s 99-91 loss to the Iowa Energy.
Ellenson finished with 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting, 16 rebounds, one steal, one block and five turnovers in 39 minutes. Gbinije had 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting, eight rebounds, two steals, one assist and one turnover in 37 minutes.
Van Gundy said he got the reports of their performances, but plans to watch the film on Sunday.
“Neither one of them played great. I think they can tell you that,” Van Gundy said. “In their defense, I think we sent two pretty tired guys over there because we wanted to do some work with Reggie (Jackson) that day, so they went out here for 45 minutes to an hour, some of it 3-on-3 full court, which is challenging, and then we sent them over to play. So they did the walkthrough, all that extra work and then we sent them over to play.
“I just don't think, from what (Drive coach) Rex (Walters) said, they didn't have any legs. Everything was short on shots and everything else. Still a good day for them. They get to go over and play basketball. They weren't just sitting on the bench, so it was good."
It was Ellenson and Gbinije’s second stint in Grand Rapids. They practiced and played in the Drive’s opener earlier this month when the Pistons had their four-game West Coast trip.
Van Gundy said he suspended Johnson for Friday’s game against the Clippers due to a “violation of team rules.”
"We'll leave it at that," Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy added it’s a one-game suspension and Johnson will be with the team on its flight to Oklahoma City for Saturday’s game against the Thunder.
With Johnson and Bullock both out, that left the Pistons with Hilliard and Gbinije as the only two wing options on the bench against the Clippers.
Pistons at Thunder
Tip-off: 8 p.m. Saturday, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
Outlook: After a four-game home stand, the Pistons embark on a four-game trip. Detroit won the first meeting at The Palace, 104-88. …G Russell Westbrook (31.8 points, 10.5 assists, 9.6 rebounds) leads the Thunder (8-8), who lost three straight entering play Friday.