The Pistons’ big three was really big in a big game.
Reggie Jackson kept them in the game in the first half, Andre Drummond was big down the stretch and Blake Griffin was a true finisher in the final minutes when they needed a closer.
The three combined for 68 points and their key reserves came up big again, helping the Pistons overcome a 21-point first-half deficit, as the Pistons grabbed a 112-104 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at United Center.
It’s the fourth straight win and 11th in the last 13 games for the Pistons, who boosted their lead to a half-game over the Brooklyn Nets for sixth place in the East playoff race.
Griffin scored 16 of his 27 point in the fourth quarter, Drummond had 20 points and 24 rebounds — his 11th 20-20 game this season — and Jackson scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half.
The Pistons (33-31) chipped away at the deficit, which was 66-45 with 55.9 seconds left in the first half. They got two baskets from Jackson in the final minute and trimmed the lead to 17 at halftime.
They limited the Bulls (19-48) to 14 points in the third quarter and got six points each from Jackson and Drummond, plus a pair of jumpers from Luke Kennard (14 points) and entered the fourth with an 80-69 deficit.
Griffin, who was injured in the third quarter, hit an opening 3-pointer and Langston Galloway (15 points) ignited, hitting a 3-pointer, to pull within 5. That started a 29-8 run that erased the deficit and got the Pistons to a 98-88 margin, after a lay-in by Griffin and a floater by Drummond.
Griffin scored 10 straight points down the stretch, for a 109-102 lead and the Pistons put it away in the final minute, for their largest comeback of the season.
1. Blake Griffin left the game in the third quarter and went to the locker room because of what looked to be a calf injury. He returned with a wrap on his right calf and when he re-entered in the fourth quarter, he was nearly unstoppable.
2. The Pistons had a good start on the offensive end but a slow start on defense, going 11-of-22 but allowing the Bulls to shoot 67 percent (12-of-18) in the first quarter. That, combined with the Bulls’ big spurt in the second quarter, helped them build the double-digit lead. The Pistons have gotten away from their horrific starts early in games, but this one was just from sluggish play and letting the Bulls get in the paint for easy scores.
3. Galloway’s offensive production can run a little hot and cold but when he’s hot, he’s really hot. His start to the fourth quarter was critical to the Pistons’ comeback and he’s rewarding Casey for having that level of faith in his game and continuing to play him in key situations.
4. The Bulls didn’t look like a team that is trying to tank and just get the best draft pick possible. That’s important because Sunday’s game is also against the Bulls and in this playoff chase, they’ll have some tough games against teams who play above their record. It’ll be an important slingshot game going into the back-to-back next week at Brooklyn and Miami, the two teams directly below the Pistons in the playoff chase.
5. Kennard and Galloway each had double figures and again provided a boost in the third and fourth quarters, when the Pistons needed some scoring. Along with Ish Smith (seven points and seven assists), they kept the bench group going. It provided 38 points in another dominant performance, where it outpaced the Bulls’ reserves.