Pistons-Bulls Preview

Update: Luol Deng will miss tonight’s game because of his hamstring injury. It is the third straight game he will be out.

Detroit Pistons Status Check:
Record: 16-25
Division: 4-2
Conference: 13-11
Road Record: 4-14
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 2
Last game: 105-90 win over Orlando
PPG: 95.3 (19th)
Opponents PPG: 96.0 (9th)
Offensive Rating: 104.4 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 105.2 (14th)
Pace: 90.1 (24th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .485 (18th)
Turnover Percentage: .142 (24th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .730 (18th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .293 (9th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .206 (15th)
Opp. eFG%: .481 (9th)
Opp. TO%: .126 (27th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .208 (19th)
Leading scorer: Greg Monroe (15.4)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Pistons Injury Report:
Rodney Stuckey: left Tuesday’s game (sprained ankle)

With two of their best players sidelined, Chicago battled a tough Memphis team before falling in overtime and next time out topped the struggling Lakers. The Bulls had practice winning without Rose last year, as he missed some games in the lockout shortened season. But this is something new.

Now the Bulls set their sights on division-foe Detroit. The Pistons are 4-2 against Central opponents so far this year, and have won seven of their last ten and nine of their last 13. During that streak, they have wins against the Heat, Bucks (twice), Hawks and Celtics. That’s not a bad group of victories.

Detroit is traveling to Chicago after taking care of the Magic on Tuesday night. The Pistons bench scored 48 points to just 29 for the Orlando reserves and had six players in double-figures, led by Brandon Knight’s 18 points.

Greg Monroe scored 16, while Jason Maxiell and Andre Drummond each tallied eleven points and eleven rebounds. “The performance from our bigs was really good,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “That was a big part of our game plan tonight.”

Detroit outrebounded the Magic 54-41 including 16-6 on the offensive end. Orlando’s power forward, Glen Davis, struggled from the field against Maxiell and company, going 4-16, while grabbing just three rebounds.

Chicago should fare better against Detroit’s frontline, with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah playing good basketball. Jo has been playing well all season, and although his shooting has slipped in 2013—to 37.7 percent on the month—he is still averaging 10.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks. Noah was 2-8 from the field against Dwight Howard and the Lakers scoring just six points. He brought it in other areas though, grabbing 13 boards and blocking six shots.

Boozer on the other hand is playing his best stretch of basketball in some time. He’s averaging 22.0 points on 51.9 percent shooting and grabbing 11.5 rebounds in the month of January. All of those stats are up from his season totals (16.1 points, 48.2 percent, 10.0 rebounds). Boozington had a bit of a down game against Los Angeles, with just 14 points on 7-17 shooting (41.2 percent) and six boards.

The Bulls showed that their bigs can control a game last time they faced the Pistons as both Boozer and Noah had huge days. The Bulls scored 58 points in the paint as Boozington scored 24 points on 12-19 from the field, to go with six boards and two steals.

Noah exploded for 30 points (12-19 FG) and 23 rebounds, setting career highs in both categories. Joakim out-rebounded the rest of the Bulls (23-19) and nearly out-rebounded the Pistons (28-23). He became one of four players to record 30 points, 23 rebounds and six assists, joining Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Charles Barkley.

The Bulls needed all Noah could give, as they trailed by 17 at one point in the second quarter, and ended up winning by just four. Detroit shot 51.4 percent for the game and 57.1 percent from deep. The Bulls are going to have to do better on the defensive end, which they should. Opponents are averaging 91.5 points against the Bulls in January, and that includes the three overtime games they had last week.

The Bulls have won 16 straight against the Pistons, a streak dating back to 2008, but they have had problems winning at home this season, especially against lesser opponents. I don’t need to remind everyone of the losses to Charlotte and Phoenix in the United Center, but I will anyway, and I’ll remind everyone of the early season home loss to New Orleans as well. The Bulls are 12-11 at home on the year, but the Pistons are 4-14 on the road. Detroit is 3-6 on the second night of back-to-backs.

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