'We ran out of gas': Pistons suffer fourth-largest defeat in franchise history
The Pistons played one of their best games of the season in overcoming a 22-point deficit and surprising the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
On the second night of a back-to-back, they didn’t sneak up on the Chicago Bulls.
With a third-quarter flurry, the Bulls pulled away and charged to a 133-87 victory on Tuesday night at United Center. The 46-point margin was the Pistons' fourth-largest defeat in franchise history.
Josh Jackson scored 16 points, the fourth time in the last five games that he’s scored in double figures. Isaiah Stewart had 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks and Cade Cunningham added eight points and seven rebounds for the Pistons (9-31).
Miscues again hurt the Pistons, as they had 18 turnovers, resulting in 27 points for the Bulls.
BOX SCORE: Bulls 133, Pistons 87
Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls (27-11) with 22 points and eight rebounds and DeMar DeRozan 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Lonzo Ball added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists and Zach LaVine 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
"We just have to be a little better off the back-to-backs," Jackson said. "I don't feel like we had as much energy as we normally play with today because of that. It's part of the NBA, so it's just something we got to learn to get used to.”
The Pistons were within striking distance at halftime, trimming a 14-point lead with a lay-in from Killian Hayes and a 3-pointer from Hamidou Diallo. After DeRozan made one of two free throws and Coby White (13 points) made two free throws, the lead was back to 12.
Bey converted one of two free throws with 0.4 seconds left in the second quarter, and Jackson tipped in Bey’s miss on the second free throw at the buzzer to cut the margin to single digits, 61-52, at halftime.
That’s where things got ugly.
The Bulls opened the third quarter with a 17-0 run in the first four minutes, including a three-point play from Ball, a pair of 3-pointers from Vucevic and back-to-back 3-pointers from Derrick Jones, Jr.
"That's what we talked about at halftime, was turnovers,” said coach Dwane Casey, who returned after missing Monday’s game because of a false-positive COVID test. “We were down nine at halftime and then had three straight turnovers, and from there, we ran out of gas."
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That spurt boosted the lead to 78-52 and Cunningham ended it with a drive and dunk, but the Bulls continued to dominate, with a jumper from DeRozan. After two free throws from Saben Lee, the Bulls got a 3-pointer from Ball and a drive from DeRozan, and the rout was on.
Vucevic, who had been defended well by Stewart in the first half, got loose in the third quarter, with eight points in a 10-2 Bulls run that stretched the lead to 97-63 in the final minutes of the period.
The Pistons had a good start in the opening minutes, with an 11-5 advantage. Stewart had two baskets and two free throws in that span and Cunningham had a 3-pointer, plus a lay-in by Diallo. Chicago answered with back-to-back baskets by DeRozan and a 3-pointer by rookie Ayo Dosunmu (10 points).
The Pistons responded with a 3-pointer by Bey, a steal and dunk by Diallo and consecutive baskets by Stewart, for their largest lead, 22-14.
Turnovers were the undoing, as the Pistons had six miscues in the first quarter.