The Detroit Pistons’ home opener against the Chicago Bulls most likely won’t be an easy assignment.
Chicago has defeated the Pistons 15 consecutive times, including a sweep of the last four season series. The Pistons will look to snap that streak against their Central Division rival on Saturday night.
Detroit has split its first two games this season. After a furious rally in Miami that fell one point short, the Pistons defeated Charlotte on Friday, 111-99.
The Pistons got a big lift from their bench, Alec Burks had a team-high 24 points, Jaden Ivey contributed 18 and Marvin Bagley III tossed in 14. That allowed Detroit to overcome turnovers, as well as foul trouble to star player Cade Cunningham.
Detroit committed 24 turnovers, leading to 26 Hornets points. Cunningham was limited to 12 points before fouling out.
“When you have those kinds of turnover numbers and the fouls (29), you have to do something to offset it and it was the defense tonight.,” head coach Monty Williams said. “Their team shot 37 percent for the game. You don’t see that much in NBA games and I thought our physicality had a lot to do with it. I thought guarding the ball had a lot to do with it. We could have been even better if we had kept our hands up and not reached as much. … Our defense is growing.”
Rookie forward Ausar Thompson scored only six points but was a factor on both ends of the floor with 12 rebounds and six assists.
“He just has a knack for jumping over people and getting rebounds out of space and … he had some really good passes,” Williams said. “I’m proud that he had more poise than probably anybody on the floor tonight.”
Second-year center Jalen Duren had a solid outing with 14 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal.
Williams recorded his first victory as the Pistons’ head coach.
The Bulls are also 1-1 and playing the second game of a back-to-back. They’re coming off a wild 104-103 overtime victory over Toronto.
Chicago rallied from a 17-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation to force the extra session. Alex Caruso’s 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime was the game-winning shot.
DeMar DeRozan led the offense with 33 points but missed three free throws in the final 12.1 seconds of regulation.
“Alex bailed me out,” DeRozan said.
Caruso’s 3-point make was a rarity for the Bulls. They knocked down just eight of 39 attempts against the Raptors.
“We’re getting close,” DeRozan said. “Once our rhythm hits, once one guy gets it rolling, it will make it easier on all of us. Just stick with it, stay disciplined, understand what we’re doing when it comes to the offense.”
Zach LaVine will be looking to regain his shooting stroke. He’s made just seven of his 30 field-goal attempts during the first two games, including a 2-for-15 performance on 3-point tries.
“Obviously, I’ve got to get things clicking,” he said.