The initial shock from losing Derrick Rose for the season is over. The Chicago Bulls know what they have to do in order to make something out of this season, and that usually means returning to their famous, tough as nails defense. It’s easy against the terrible Detroit Pistons, winning 99-79, getting a bit more of the excellent form Luol Deng is in, and a surprising bench contribution from Taj Gibson.
Defense, in any case, was the hero. The Pistons continue to look like a team that’s been built in all the wrong ways over the summer, as Josh Smith takes three pointer after three pointer, finishing with 1-of-4, and the Pistons hit only 16.7% of their three point shots. Chicago held them to only 44.2% from the field, not to mention 26 points in the second half on 27.8% shooting from the field. They also missed all six three point attempts and went 6-of-13 from the line.
Rodney Stuckey continues to be something of a source of light to the Pistons, scoring 25 points off the bench. However, with Brandon Jennings refusing to play like a point guard and Maurice Cheeks refusing to do anything about his clogged paint situation, there’s not a lot of hope the Pistons are going to look much better down the road, as their three big-man lineups are simply destined to fail.
For Chicago, it doesn’t really matter. In order to give this team the right defensive look, Mike Dunleavy was dropped to the bench once more and rookie Tony Snell got his second career start in what looks like a permanent gig. He finished with 13 points on fine shooting, but added excellent defense on the perimeter, something Dunleavy can’t do, and was a lot more harmful by coming off the bench, adding 7 rebounds and 2 points.
Deng, despite all the talks of him being traded at some point this season, has been playing some excellent basketball over the last three games. He scored 27 points on 11-of-17 from the field, adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s averaging 24.3 points over the last three, as Chicago won its first game after four consecutive losses, now evening out at 7-7, which is almost like a title contender in the very weak Eastern conference.
Taj Gibson was the big surprise off the bench, scoring 23 points. Gibson, averaging 10 points per game this season, hasn’t scored more than 15 points all season. It was a career high for Gibson, who looked like he knew what he was doing with the ball every time he laid his hands on it, or at least more than usual, finishing with 11-of-13 from the field, adding 8 rebounds, making up for the weak night Carlos Boozer was having.
In the second half, we got our defensive intensity going. This has been a tough road trip for us. We played to our strengths tonight, we really competed defensively in the second half and we got one in the win column. They are tough, but we adjusted to the physical play of the game. When the ball was in the air, we got bodies on people and fought for the ball.