The Chicago Bulls had not appeared in a Christmas game since Michael Jordan played for them. It also was during his tenure when they last enjoyed a run of dominance this long over the Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls will look to bounce back from a Christmas loss and defeat the Pistons for the ninth straight time Sunday when they visit The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Chicago (18-10) is coming off its first appearance on Dec. 25 since Jordan’s final season with the Bulls in 1997-98, and fell 103-95 at New York on Saturday. The Knicks shot 53.2 percent - a season high against the Bulls.
Carlos Boozer(notes) had 26 points and 19 rebounds and Derrick Rose(notes) scored 25, but each of them contributed seven of the Bulls’ season-high 22 turnovers. Chicago also endured a scoreless drought of more than eight minutes in the fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points in the period.
“To their credit, I thought they played good defense,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think we have to execute when we are being double-teamed. We’ve got to make plays. We didn’t do that tonight.”
A chance to recover comes right away against Detroit (10-19). Chicago’s current run in the series pales to when Jordan helped guide the Bulls to 19 straight wins over the Pistons from April 12, 1993-March 22, 1997.
While Jordan often tormented the Pistons, Rose has started to do the same. The All-Star guard has averaged 24.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting during Chicago’s eight-game win streak in the series.
Rose’s most memorable performance against Detroit came in this season’s home opener. He matched a career high with 39 points as the Bulls rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half for a 101-91 victory Oct. 30, outscoring Detroit 34-9 in the fourth quarter.
The Pistons hope to avenge that defeat and post a season-high third straight win following a 115-93 victory at Toronto on Wednesday.
“Guys played a complete, full game of basketball. We just kept putting our foot on the gas pedal,” said Charlie Villanueva(notes), averaging 18.6 points in five games after a 10-game stretch during which he averaged 9.0.
Richard Hamilton(notes) scored a season-high 35 points in his first game as a reserve after 21 straight starts. Hamilton missed the previous contest against New Orleans with an upset stomach, although there was speculation that he was unhappy about not starting.
“Tonight I just wanted to make a statement,” Hamilton said. “With all the stuff talked about and things like that, I just wanted to come out and make a statement.”
Ben Gordon(notes) has started the last two games in Hamilton’s place, and made 1 of 7 shots for four points Wednesday. Sunday will mark Gordon’s first start against his former team after he averaged 12.6 points on 39.6 percent shooting in five games off the bench against the Bulls.