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10 observations: Bulls fall to NBA-worst Pistons for second time

10 observations: Bulls fall to NBA-worst Pistons for second time originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls fell to a Detroit Pistons team finishing a back-to-back set of games 105-95 on Tuesday night, hearing boos from the United Center crowd.

Here are 10 observations:

---The Pistons entered owning the worst defensive rating in the NBA at 119.8 and the Bulls failed to crack 100 points. The Bulls finished a ghastly 2-for-29 from 3-point range, the second-worst shooting performance from 3-point range in NBA history. They missed their first 11 attempts and, at one point, stood at 1-for-22. That’s hard to do. The Bulls entered the night ranked 23rd in the league with 11.8 3-pointers per game.

“I wouldn’t say we were pressing. I was actually laughing. I was laughing in my head because when you look at it, we were 2-for-(29), that’s just crazy. What are the odds of that happening?” Ayo Dosunmu said. “But you take it. It’s the beauty of basketball. Some nights, you go 6-for-6 or 7-for-7 and some nights the ball doesn’t go in. That’s when you have to focus in on the details and grind it out, get to the free-throw line. . . . It was amusing seeing the great looks we got that didn’t fall.”

Added Coby White: “I think we all got good looks. I don’t feel like we pressed. It just wasn’t our night shooting the ball.”

---The Pistons own just nine victories this season, but two are against the Bulls. They lead the season series 2-1.

“It’s disappointing because you’re late in the season and we understand the importance and sense of urgency we need to play with each night,” Dosunmu said. “I think we let one slip away.”

---Coby White’s shooting struggles continued. He finished 2-for-14 and is 13-for-49 in the three games since the All-Star break.

“The minutes ain’t catching up,” said White, who ranks second in total minutes behind DeMar DeRozan. “I just gotta hit shots.”

Asked what he’s seeing on film with his misses, White didn’t provide much detail.

“The ball isn’t going in the basket for me,” he said. “I don’t try to miss.”

Between his minutes and a usage rate of 22.5 that’s over 5 points higher than last season’s, there’s a lot on White’s plate.

“It’s been an adjustment just because this is something different,” White said. “It’s a challenge. I’m going to take it head on. Grow from it, learn from it and continue to get better each day.

“I can’t do as much as I want working out-wise because of the minutes. I spend more time in recovery. It’s been a challenge and adjustment, but I just want to keep getting better and keep learning as much as I can.”

---The Bulls were thoroughly outplayed in the second half, outscored 55-40. The loss completely negated the strong road victory on Sunday in New Orleans and crowded into the team picture for low point of the season, joining the Nov. 28 loss in Boston that dropped the Bulls to 5-14. Dosunmu fouled Cade Cunningham on a 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left, part of the missed assignments that plagued the loss. The Pistons enjoyed a 14-2 advantage in fast-break points.

---Coach Billy Donovan's postgame message centered on overcoming the poor shooting by controlling the things the Bulls can control---not giving up offensive rebounds, getting back in transition, not fouling shooters, winning the battle for 50-50 balls.

“It’s a total outlier game in terms of that kind of shooting, especially from these guys,” Donovan said. “The thing I’m hoping we can learn from this is it wasn’t like we were down by 25 because of it. I thought the loose balls, the offensive rebounds, the hustle plays, the transition---we still had opportunities to overcome it. I’ve always talked about the things we can control. And I did think to a certain extent, the frustration got in a little bit.”

---Alex Caruso moved from guarding Zion Williamson on Sunday in New Orleans to Cade Cunningham. What a luxury for the Bulls to have not only such defensive versatility but elite defensive versatility. Caruso is one of four NBA players with at least 65 steals and 55 blocks, joining Victor Wembanyama, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Scottie Barnes.

---Caruso finished with five steals, one off his career-high and including a textbook one in the second quarter. As Jaden Ivey called out the play up top, Caruso poke-checked the ball free, hustled to secure it and blast in for a transition dunk.

---Unfortunately for the Bulls, Caruso appeared to turn his right ankle trying to apply pressure on Quentin Grimes with 10 minutes, 48 seconds left and limped to the locker room. After being listed as questionable to return with what the team called a right hamstring injury, Caruso checked back in with 4:58 left but left for good with 2:18 left. Donovan said he didn't like the way Caruso was moving.

"I think he would've preferred to stay in," Donovan said. "I just didn't like the way he was running. It was my decision to take him off. He was cleared to come back in."

---Terry Taylor served as the sixth man for the second straight game. Pregame, coach Billy Donovan said Caruso’s initial substitute will be matchup-based. With the Pistons returning Isaiah Stewart from an ankle injury and suspension, they sported a big, physical frontline.

---That frontline prompted Donovan to return to the double-big lineup of Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond after a one-game absence. Drummond immediately injected energy into a sleepy start, posting eight points, four rebounds and one block in the first quarter alone. Both big men finished with double-doubles. Vucevic sank the Bulls’ first 3-pointer after 11 straight misses to open the game.

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