On the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls stormed the Pistons off their home floor 108-99 on Saturday. With the win, the Bulls sweep the season series with Detroit and get back in the win column for the first time in six games. Here's some observations:
The Luke Kornet Game
This is the preeminent observation of all observations that I've ever made. Luke Kornet - who's become regularly acquainted with DNP-CDs since Daniel Gafford's ascension - stepped up tonight, and he stepped up big.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 12, 2020
He was especially key early, when the Bulls' built an, at one time, 18-point first-half lead over the Pistons. In the first quarter alone, Kornet had 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting (2-for-3 from deep), one block and a game-high +17 plus-minus (he ended the night +20). And he wasn't done. Later on, with the Pistons rallying, he hit a 3-pointer midway through the third to push the Bulls' lead back to nine, and blocked a Bruce Brown layup at the period's buzzer to secure an 81-71 lead entering the fourth.
Kornet finished the night with 15 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 25:17 minutes, and played some crucial minutes with Daniel Gafford in foul trouble, down the stretch. Notably, he also fared well enough stepping up in pick-and-roll coverage, a massive point of concern for him since he arrived in Chicago. Who knows what's to come from Kornet, but we'll always have tonight.
Bulls hold up down low
If you were apprehensive about how the Bulls would handle Andre Drummond and the Pistons one night after allowing 70 paint points (on 77.8% paint shooting) against the depleted Indiana Pacers, no one would blame you.
But the visitors flipped the script in this one, at least early on. In the first half, the Bulls outscored Detroit 40-26 in the paint, shooting 22-for-32 (68.8%) down low. That equalized a bit in the second half, but the Bulls had a 60-48 points in the paint advantage by game's end, shooting 65.3% (well above their season-long mark). That edge was much needed on an off jump-shooting night - the Bulls finished 31.4% from 3-point range but 50.6% from the field.
And Drummond was ultimately a non-factor. After sprinting out to eight first quarter points, he was ejected in the third for plunking Daniel Gafford after Gafford stared him down following a made layup:
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 12, 2020
The Pistons rallied and stayed in it until the bitter end from that point on, perhaps sparked by Drummond's ejection. Gafford, for his part, bounced back after a tough night against Indiana, finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds and a block on 7-for-9 shooting with a few key deflections and loose ball recoveries, to boot.
The one blemish: Gafford fouled out with just over two minutes to play. Foul trouble was a theme all night, as the Pistons took 27 free throws to the Bulls' 14.
D-Rose got going
Rose wasn't much a factor early, but he found his rhtythm as the game wore on. He finished the night with a team-leading 20 points and seven assists on 7-for-11 shooting (2-for-3 from deep).
It's Rose's fifth game in a row both with over 28 minutes played and 20+ points scored. For stretches, nobody could stay in front of him on drives. It's the latest in a line of solid performances for Rose against his hometown team.
Own the Pistons
So long, games against the Pistons. We'll miss you dearly.
The Bulls finish the season series 4-0 against Detroit (meaning the Pistons account for nearly 30 percent of the Bulls' total wins), but this one was perhaps the most-needed. The win snaps a six-game losing streak for the Bulls, vaults them (somehow) into 10th place in the Eastern Conference and 4.5 games out of the eighth seed, as of this writing.
The stretch run was especially encouraging. It wasn't Zach LaVine's most efficient night, but he poured in 25 points and six assists, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line and closing out the game with big buckets late. Lauri Markkanen had 14 points and seven rebounds, and though he only took 11 shots, he led Bulls' scorers in the fourth quarter. Ryan Arcidiacono hit a big 3. Kris Dunn had a crucial steal. The Pistons didn't go quietly into the night, but the Bulls set them aside anyway.
After this brief respite, the Celtics are next (in Boston) on Monday.
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Four observations: Bulls get back in win column against Detroit Pistons originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago