Pistons look to polish off 3-game road swing against Bulls Saturday
Detroit has handled its business against teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in four of its recent wins but the Pistons also knocked off the Heat in Miami this week and center Andre Drummond told the Detroit Free Press that things seem to be coming together for his team, saying, "We are really starting to jell."
Chicago is 2-4 since losing the centerpiece of their offense, point guard Derrick Rose, in a Nov. 22 loss to Portland but is coming off of a 20-point victory over Miami that has its players feeling a renewed confidence. "That's who we are," guard Kirk Hinrich told the Chicago Tribune. "I think that was our most consistent defensive and rebounding game. That's what we have to do." Chicago outrebounded the Heat 49-27 and held Miami to an unremarkable 41.6 percent shooting.
GAME TIME: 8 p.m.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (9-10): Drummond has emerged as a force at both ends of late, becoming the first Detroit player with 18 or more rebounds in three straight games since Ben Wallace in March of 2003, while averaging 21.7 points in same stretch. His 12.8 rebounds per game trail only Minnesota's Kevin Love (13.6) and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers (12.9). Rodney Stuckey averages a team-high 16.2 points and Brandon Jennings adds 15.9 to go with 8.4 assists off the bench as Detroit's best distributor.
ABOUT THE BULLS (8-9): Rose was initially declared out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 25 but recently stated he hasn't yet closed the door on a return for the playoffs, if Chicago should qualify. In his absence, the Bulls are led by Luol Deng, who averages 19.4 points, and Carlos Boozer, who posts 15.7 points to go with a rebounding average of 8.8 that is good for a share of the team lead alongside Joakim Noah. Chicago's 95.3 points per game overall is among the NBA's bottom 10 but it has limited opponents to 94.1 - good for fourth-best leaguewide.
1. Chicago has bested Detroit a remarkable 19 times in the last 20 meetings between the two, including a 99-79 decision in Detroit Nov. 27.
2. Drummond grabbed 18 boards and Greg Monroe pulled down 17 against Milwaukee on Wednesday , becoming the first two Pistons with at least 17 each since Bill Laimbeer (20) and Dennis Rodman (17) in February of 1990.
3. Led by Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith, Detroit averages a league-best 51.5 points in the paint.
PREDICTION: Pistons 104, Bulls 102