Rod Beard on Detroit's 99-83 victory over Chicago.
Detroit — The losing skid couldn’t continue for the rest of the season, though it may have seemed like it was going to.
The Pistons cleared out the cobwebs and got back on the winning side of the ledger.
After a sluggish first quarter, the Pistons recovered in the second quarter to take the lead just before halftime and pulled away in the third quarter, taking a 99-83 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, as owner Tom Gores looked on from his courtside seat.
The victory ends the Pistons’ four-game losing streak and their skid of 10 losses in the past 12 games.
Blake Griffin had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Reggie Bullock added 21 points and Luke Kennard 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Pistons (30-36), who are five games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the East.
“It’s a very good win tonight at home,” said forward James Ennis III, who had 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. “Going on this road trip getting this win will give us confidence on the road.”
The win also was a positive springboard for the Pistons’ six-game, 12-day western trip, which begins on Tuesday at Utah.
Though the Pistons have some quality wins this season, including at Golden State, at Boston and home against the Houston Rockets — but getting a victory over the struggling Bulls (22-43) to end the skid is just as big a relief for coach Stan Van Gundy.
“I’m about as happy after that (win) as I have been after the Warriors win and the Houston win,” Van Gundy said. “Seriously, it was such a tough stretch; it was good to get one.”
The Pistons had been struggling in third quarters, with lackluster defensive lapses, including giving up 40 points in the third against the Toronto Raptors in Wednesday’s loss.
Friday was different.
“I thought our defense all night was pretty good,” Van Gundy said. “We looked a step slow offensively and we didn’t take care of the ball great but we did get some offense going a little bit from the middle of the second quarter on.”
The Pistons the third period as their launch pad, with a 24-15 margin that helped push their lead to 11 after a 49-47 halftime lead. The 15 points are the fewest the Pistons have allowed in a quarter this season.
In the third quarter, the Pistons pulled away with a 14-3 start. Andre Drummond (five points and 17 rebounds) had a lay-in, Bullock scored on a cut to the basket and Griffin and Bullock added a 3-pointer during the spurt, pushing to 63-52 at the 5:47 mark.
The Bulls responded with a tip dunk by rookie Lauri Markkanen (six points and eight rebounds) and a 3-pointer by Kris Dunn (13 points).
Eric Moreland finished the third quarter with back-to-back baskets for a 73-62 advantage entering the fourth.
Cameron Payne, who scored nine of his 17 points in the second half, led the Bulls with 17 points. His three-point play with 5:00 left in the fourth trimmed the lead to 89-76 but the Pistons got a step-back jumper from Ish Smith (12 points) and a drive from Bullock to help push the lead to 17.
It was another good combo game for Bullock and Griffin, who combined for 46 points. Bullock has scored in double figures in 13 straight games, the longest such streak in his career. The two are finding a good rhythm together in the starting lineup and have started to click in the last stretch of games.
Griffin is averaging 28 points in his last four games and is getting into a groove with his scoring and distributing, with eight assists.
“I would say it’s two good players that know how to play basketball and that chemistry comes pretty quickly,” Van Gundy said. “Those two guys have really developed a good chemistry.”