Game Notes: Pistons at Bulls
Detroit gets pwned.
by Bryan Crawford
There are only two teams in the NBA that haven’t won a game in 2010 and the Detroit Pistons are one of them. But wait, it gets better.
The Pistons are the only team in the League that hasn’t won a game since the middle of December, and it isn’t even a story. They came into the United Center last night on a ‘quiet’ 12-game losing streak having last won a game on December 12. While the Chicago Bulls in general and Vinny Del Negro’s job security in particular became the center of the basketball universe a month ago, John Kuester and the Pistons have somehow managed to have their suckitude go unnoticed over the same period of time.
After Saturday night’s 14-point yawner over the Timberwolves, the Bulls rode the momentum of that victory and turned in a 33-point beat down over their Central Division rival, handing them their 13th straight L.
There wasn’t a whole lot going on in either locker room before the game. Everyone was looking for Ben Gordon but he was nowhere to be found. When I walked into the Piston’s locker room, Will Bynum and Tayshaun Prince were the only two players there and both would sit the game out due to injury. Tayshaun had a bone bruise in his knee and he was sitting in his locker with an electro-stimulation device on his leg that literally looked like a sleeve with wires hanging off of it that was connected to a black box. It was very odd looking. Will Bynum was suffering from an ankle injury and he was walking back and forth across the locker room doing toe raises. Other than that, the only other Pistons players to be found were on the court shooting.
Meanwhile, in the Bulls locker room, James Johnson and Lindsey Hunter were the only two players present there. One of the Bulls trainers came in and took Prince’s name off the board as one of the starters and James Johnson was surprised. “Tayshaun’s not playing? Wow.” Then he asked us—the assembled media—when they played the Sixers and we told him in February. He said that he couldn’t wait. I asked him why and with a big smile on his face he said, “Because I want to see AI.” We all kind of laughed and I told him not to get his hopes up because Allen Iverson may not even play that night because he has an arthritic knee, and he seemed genuinely disappointed. Rookies.
Then Lindsey began teasing James about his unusually high ticket request for the game. “Man, who are you buying tickets for,” Hunter asked Johnson who just shook his head and chuckled. I mentioned that he hadn’t been in Chicago or in the League long enough to have to buy tickets for a lot of people and he winked and said, “It doesn’t take long in this town.” We all got the joke, and everybody cracked up.
I made my way out to the court to watch shootaround and Ben Gordon emerged and was putting up jumpers and literally wasn’t missing. I watched him hit at least 20 three-pointers in a row before he finally missed one. The way he shot the ball, some of the reporters who were standing around watching like I was were anticipating a big night from him. What we didn’t know was that he too was suffering from an injury (groin) and he would be a non-factor in the game.
This was a pretty competitive quarter as both teams went back and forth. The game was tied four times and there were five lead changes.
For the Pistons, Rodney Stuckey was the man as he scored 9 points in the quarter. Rip Hamilton, on the other hand, was a complete non-factor. He went virtually the entire way and managed to only take two shot attempts and scored no points. Ben Gordon got into the game briefly and it was easy to see that he wasn’t his usually aggressive self.
For the Bulls, the combination of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson was a lot for Detroit to handle. Combined they shot 9-10 from the field and scored 19 points for the home team who just looked to be in a really good groove from top to bottom. The biggest surprise was that Vinny Del Negro actually played 10 guys in the quarter when he usually just has a seven man rotation. Rotating those fresh bodies in and out seemed to put the team into a nice rhythm and since he’s the proverbial dead horse now, he seems to be coaching without pressure. I mean what does he have to lose, his job? The Bulls led 28-25 after the 1st quarter.
The Bulls continued to shoot the ball well, but I was too busy watching Jonas Jerebko to even notice. That kid can play, there’s no question about that. He was a one man wrecking crew in the quarter as he scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. And it wasn’t a quiet 9 and 5 either. He was all over the place and it was very easy to take notice of how hard he was playing. Rip Hamilton contributed 5 points and Ben Wallace contributed 4 points but the rest of the Pistons couldn’t seem to get anything going as they shot a combined 9-21 from the field. Ben Gordon got in the game for a little more than 2 minutes but after that, his night was over.
For the Bulls, Tyrus Thomas matched Jerebko’s energy on the other end of the floor as he contributed 7 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, and came up with 3 steals. Joakim Noah was also a monster as he scored 4 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the quarter and Luol Deng was quietly having an amazing night was well. After scoring 8 points in the 1st quarter, he came back and scored 9 points in the second quarter and the Pistons just didn’t have an answer for him. Chicago outscored Detroit 33-22 in the quarter and they were up by as much as 15 points. At the half, the score was 61-47, Bulls
The Bulls put the Pistons away here and it was pretty much a laugher the rest of the way. Rip Hamilton played every minute and exploded for 12 points, but he didn’t have any help from his teammates who managed to only chip in 10 points between the eight other guys that played. For the Bulls, who did what isn’t important. The only thing you need to know about the quarter from the Bulls is this: They shot 71 percent from the field, 61 percent from beyond the arc, 90 percent from the free throw line, and their biggest lead of the game was 34 points. It was a massacre. After three, the Bulls lead 97-69.
Would you blame me if I have nothing to report here because I wasn’t paying attention? I didn’t think so. Final score, Chicago 120, Detroit 97.
More hilarity ensues.
I walked into the Pistons locker room and Ben Gordon had a horde of media surrounding him, myself included. After he concluded his interview I saw Charlie Villanueva and I asked him about his custom Beats™ by Dre headphones that he and every other player on the team seemed to have. They were all blue with red trimming, like the Piston’s colors, and looked pretty sweet. He said that they were a Christmas gift from the team and that’s why all the guys had them. Then I asked him why he’s been so quiet on Twitter lately. He said, “Man, we’ve lost 13 games in a row. Ain’t s**t to talk about.” We both just looked at each other and laughed.
From there I looked over at Ben Wallace and I noticed that he had a Cleveland Cavaliers carry-on bag. I asked him if it held some sort of sentimental value for him and he shot a look over at one of the Pistons PR guys and said, “No. I’ve been asking for a Piston’s bag for I don’t know how long and I still haven’t gotten it. Where’s my bag, man?” They both exchanged glances and smiled.
Finally, before the game in the Bulls locker room, I noticed Brad Miller had a turkeys embroidered into his custom Nikes. As I was talking to a senior manager from Nike in the hallway, Brad walked over to say hello and I asked him why he had turkeys on his shoes. He looked at me with a straight face, pointed and looked and pointed at my Nike guy and said, “Because he still hasn’t sent me the ones with the deer that I’ve been asking for.” Redneck humor, gotta love it.