Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 117, Pistons 115 – March 1, 2023
“Shooters shoot” is what I have to imagine Zach LaVine was screaming at himself in the mirror before tonight’s game.
The Chicago Bulls’ max man came out playing like the Detroit Pistons said something about his mother. He individually kept up with the Pistons’ scoring over the first several minutes, knocking down his first five shots on his way to a 7-10 performance for 17 points in the first half.
Scoring from all three levels, it was his aggressive offensive mentality that quickly became infectious. While the Pistons were able to shrink the Bulls’ early 15-point lead down to just one possession, they didn’t hang on to the momentum very long. Coby White and Patrick Williams came in off the bench with their foot on the gas. Williams scored a swift 11 points in 13 minutes, while White dropped 12 points to go along with 4 assists and 3 steals in his first 13 minutes of action.
All things considered, it was arguably one of White’s most impressive rotational stints of the season. He was completely in control of the game on both ends of the floor, helping ensure that the Bulls didn’t allow the Pistons to build on the brief run that Bojan Bogdanovic created for them.
The Bulls walked into the locker room with a comfortable 69-54 lead. And it was now time for them to prove that they had finally learned to play with that killer instinct … or so we hoped.
After a 3rd quarter where both teams scored 32 apiece, the Detroit Pistons used a 29-16 final frame to put a real scare into the Bulls. They officially erased what was once a 21-point lead with 3:04 remaining in the game. Chicago’s smooth-sailing offense crumbled in the very fashion we’ve grown all too used to this season. Meanwhile, the defensive rotations suddenly became a step slow, which even led to a pretty awkward confrontation between Patrick Beverley and Nikola Vucevic after the big man failed to show the proper help.
Fortunately for Chicago, LaVine never cooled off. He was able to blow by his defender and force his way to the line for two crucial free throws to give the Bulls a 114-112 lead with under a minute to go. What happened next was pure luck.
DeMar DeRozan missed the mid-range jumper to set up a game-tying or game-winning opportunity for the Pistons with 9.7 seconds left. Dwane Casey called a timeout to set up a player and tasked rookie Jaden Ivey with inbounding the ball. With LaVine jumping in front of him and Caruso locked on Bogdanovic, Ivey pulled a Chris Webber.
In other words, the Pistons didn’t have a timeout but Ivey called one anyway. This turned what was a game-winning opportunity into a technical free throw and the ball for Chicago, which all but sealed the win for the Bulls.
The Bulls are now 3-1 since the All-Star break as they try to re-enter the Play-In Tournament picture. But, despite this decent four-game stretch, I can’t say I’ve seen anything that convinces me this is a truly different team. I mean, they almost just blew another 20+ points lead, folks.
Check out the full box score here.