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Pistons stay hot, bounce Bulls for fifth straight win

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — In the midst of a tough stretch of games, it wasn’t the easiest of circumstances in which to play: Sunday’s matchup against the Bulls had a rare noon tip time, coming off losing an hour for Daylight Savings Time.

The Pistons' Langston Galloway scores over the Bulls' Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the fourth quarter.

It was the second meeting against the Bulls in about a 40-hour span. The short rest and travel from Chicago late Friday — losing another hour in the time-zone change — didn’t seem to bother the Pistons much.

Like Friday’s win, the Pistons played better in the second half. With a big surge in the third quarter, they dispatched the Chicago Bulls, 131-108, on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena, for their fifth straight win overall and seventh straight at home.

Blake Griffin had 28 points, six rebounds and five assists, Reggie Jackson 21 points and six assists and Andre Drummond 16 points and 15 rebounds — all through just three quarters. It’s a benefit because of the critical games this week in the playoff race: at Brooklyn on Monday night and at Miami on Wednesday.

BOX SCORE: Pistons 131, Bulls 108

On the first game of a back-to-back, the Pistons (34-31) had a 23-point advantage entering the fourth quarter and were able to rest their starters.

The Pistons started slowly and coach Dwane Casey didn’t want to have to push the starters or give a big pep talk to get them to wake up after another sluggish first half.

He didn’t need to.

“I didn’t have to give a nice speech or anything tonight; guys understood and they knew after (Saturday’s) film session that there are certain things we have to do and a mindset that we have to have,” Casey said. “I was concerned about the early start. I think it was a great day for (Kids Day), but the noon start has the NBA body clocks all out of whack, but our guys responded pretty well.”

After overcoming a 21-point deficit on Friday, the Pistons took control in the second quarter and didn’t let up. The Bulls’ largest lead on Sunday was five, early in the first quarter. Entering halftime, the Pistons had a 61-55 lead after a 3-pointer by Jackson, who was 5-of-8 beyond the arc.

The Pistons created some cushion in the third quarter, adding an 11-2 spurt, with seven straight points from Griffin and a floater by Jackson, for a 72-57 margin. The Bulls (19-49) didn’t have an answer for the Pistons’ pick-and-roll with Jackson, Drummond and Griffin.

“We had a hard time with that big-big pick-and-roll,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “We couldn’t get under it; we were under the switch and we couldn’t get under it and couldn’t keep them in front of us.”

The Bulls were without Zach LaVine (right patellar tendon strain) answered with a 12-5 run, with five points each by Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen, who had each had 17 points and six rebounds, to get within eight.

“We got into a good rhythm and guys were hitting shots,” Drummond said. “We were making them make mistakes and they were trying to blitz us but we swung the ball around and took the best shot possible.”

In the final six minutes of the third, the Pistons put the game away, with a 26-11 run, including seven points each from Griffin and Drummond and six each from Galloway and Jackson, for a 103-80 lead entering the fourth.

Galloway energized the bench unit, going 6-of-6 on 3-pointers, continuing his streak of 12 straight made 3-pointers in the last three games. It’s the longest streak of 3-pointers made in the NBA this season.

The reserves continued the onslaught in the fourth quarter, with seven points each from Jon Leuer and rookie Khyri Thomas.

Pistons at Nets

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Barclays Center, New York

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: It’s the last meeting of the season for two teams vying for sixth in the East. The Pistons (34-31) have won five straight and 12 of 14. The Nets (35-33) have won three straight and are led by All-Star D’Angelo Russell (20.4 points and 6.8 assists).

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard