The Bulls faced the Detroit Pistons Friday night, putting their six-game winning streak on the line. They also put the three-seed in the Eastern Conference on the line as well.
At 46-32, the Bulls were tied with the Toronto Raptors for that third seed. The Raptors were at home Friday, facing the New York Knicks.
The Knicks did the Bulls a huge favor, beating the Raptors 108-100. All the Bulls had to do was beat the Pistons, a team who is out of the playoffs and has nothing to play for. With the Bulls riding a six-game winning streak, no problem, right?
Well, in the first half the Pistons came out playing like it was the Finals, and the Bulls played like they were playing in mud and the rim was 20-feet high. The Pistons rode to a 56-38 halftime lead.
Andre Drummond played like Andre the Giant in that first half, collecting 19 rebounds. In fact, he outrebounded THE ENTIRE BULLS TEAM 19-17.
In the second half, the Bulls used their patented defense to clamp down the Pistons, and the shots started falling as they won going away, 106-98.
With the Brooklyn Nets losing, the Bulls also guaranteed a first round home court advantage in the playoffs starting next weekend.
DJ Augustin had 24 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Taj Gibson 17 points with only 4 rebounds, but two of those rebounds were big in the 4th quarter that resulted in points during their furious comeback.
Joakim Noah just missed getting his league-leading fifth triple-double, scoring just 6 points, but grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. He also had 3 blocked shots.
Noah also made history. With his assists, his total for the season now stands at 408. He became just the ninth player in history (three with Chicago) to collect 400 assists and block 100 shots. He joins Kevin Garnett, Sam Lacey, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alex English, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Alvan Adams, and Dwyane Wade.
Pistons interim coach John Loyer was impressed with the Bulls’ competitive nature. “Whether you’re up 18 or down whatever, you’re going to have to come in here and compete,” he said. “That team competes on every possession. It’s a good learning experience for a lot of our guys.”
When things were bad early in the season, the Bulls just charged forward and did not pay attention to anything around them. Now that they are flying high, they have the same attitude, but they do remember the low times.
“Right now, we’re just focused on basketball and making plays for each other, moving forward and getting better,” Gibson said. “That’s the only thing we’re focused on right now. Everything that’s gonna come with success is gonna come. But right now, we remember how nobody was on our bandwagon at the beginning of the year, how that felt.”
The Bulls travel to New York to face the Knicks on Sunday. They then play the Orlando Magic at home on Monday and visit their friend Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats to finish out the regular season on Wednesday.
That is when the real fun begins for the Bulls.