Winning in spite of a couple mortal sins obscured a couple unalienable truths for the Bulls early this season.
They can’t turn the ball over 20 times, nor can their defensive intensity come and go but most of all, they can’t win without Derrick Rose being some reasonable facsimile of himself.
And they can’t bully the Detroit Pistons anymore, especially not in the Palace of Auburn Hills, a place that’s become a house of horrors in the last two years. After a fourth quarter of driving to the basket, Derrick Rose’s potential winning jumper went wide and the Pistons took over in the extra five, giving them a 98-94 overtime win Friday night.
Fred Hoiberg didn’t call a timeout after the last defensive stop and trusted Rose to make the right play, and he had been going to the basket in the fourth quarter at all.
“He took the step back jumper,” Hoiberg said. “We want to attack in those situations. He came over at the huddle and said he wished he could have it over again.”
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
Andre Drummond, the man whose massive frame likely prevented Rose from going to the basket on that final regulation play, took over in overtime to complete his 20-point, 20-rebound night.
“He took away my drive, I should’ve pump-faked but it’s a learning experience,” Rose said. “A young guy was (defending) me too, takes one to really learn next time. I was aiming at the wrong basket.”
Hoiberg was willing to cut Rose slack, considering he’s still going through the double vision and he hasn’t gone through a training camp which has set him back a bit.
Checking it off as an aberration could be the easiest way of filing Rose’s performance, but it’s another illustration of the starts and re-starts he’s had throughout his career.
And Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson made life miserable for the Bulls, getting into the lane at will and challenging the Bulls bigs, getting them out of position on the way to 22 points on nine of 24 shooting with seven rebounds and seven assists.
The new and tough Pistons scored the first seven points of overtime, a remarkable feat considering each team had trouble seeing straight—as if everybody on the floor suffered from Rose’s double vision.
After shooting 50 percent in Brooklyn, the Bulls offense didn’t carry over—especially their late-game plays, reverted back to old habits, going isolation-heavy and not doing the little things that make this setup potent, shooting 40 percent from the field.
But their turnovers did, another 20 giveaway performance along with being outrebounded by the Pistons 61-50, mostly on the back of Drummond, and giving up 20 offensive rebounds allowed the Pistons to take 20 more shots.
The Pistons actually shot worse from the field, from the 3-point line and free-throw line, yet the Bulls miscues took away whatever advantage the Pistons’ offensive struggles created for them.
“I can’t put a finger on it,” Rose said. “I don’t know if it’s getting into the sets quicker or playing at a faster pace. We gotta look at the film.”
Rose turned it over five times and wouldn’t attribute it to playing the third game in four nights. Jimmy Butler didn’t want to hear that school of thought, either.
“Being reckless with the ball, just being careless,” Butler said. “That and offensive rebounds. We’re just being lazy with the ball. It’s easily correctable.”
Surprisingly, Joakim Noah only played 17 minutes with Drummond wrecking havoc on everyone wearing black Bulls jerseys, leaving Hoiberg in the position of trying to get the glass under control while his offense kept sputtering without a rhythm.
With Rose going scoreless for three quarters, Nikola Mirotic (22 points) and Pau Gasol (16 points, 12 rebounds) attempted to pick up that slack, likely making Hoiberg’s decision for him, and Butler had his hands full with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris.
One was in his chest defensively (Caldwell-Pope) while the other made him work on defense (Morris), with the latter scoring 15 in the third to break up the offensive lethargy, including the jumper to open overtime.
Butler struggled all night, scoring 23 but missing 14 of his 19 shots, including a triple that could’ve cut the Pistons’ lead to one with six seconds left in overtime, making it a slim chance for a comeback.
But the Pistons couldn’t contain Drummond and didn’t display any of the rhythm that was on display for parts of the first two wins, and perhaps the Pistons sent the Bulls a little message that they won’t be going away so easily this time around.