Pistons vs. Bulls final rating: Defense shines, offense ice cold as Detroit fails first test

The Detroit Pistons fought hard, played with great intensity on the defensive, but ultimately couldn’t hold together every 48 minutes and eventually fell 94-88 against the Chicago Bulls.

The Pistons led for most of the game, leading 9 and 7 at various points, but the offense was cold for both teams all night. However, it seemed the Pistons would have just enough behind a team-wide defensive that left them frustrating top scorers like DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine.

A Trey Lyles dunk from a beautiful Kelly Olynyk dump off brought the Pistons 82-78 into play at 7:17. And then everything went terribly wrong.

Josh Jackson made rash passes and shots, nobody could hit in the vicinity, and Jerami Grant couldn’t make it when everything was on his shoulders.

The Pistons didn’t score another basket until the 1:28 mark on a Grant turnaround jumper that brought Detroit back within two. But they couldn’t muster the offensive to turn the corner.

But let’s take a step back and acknowledge the goodness of this game. Saddiq Bey was extremely good against the Bulls, especially in the way he scored his buckets. Bey was a 3-point specialist last year and scored across the board against Chicago. He hit step-back jumpers, scored points from the post, drove to the basket, found Kutter.

You’d love to see him not lift 15 shots to get 13 points, but it does seem like there is some real growth opportunity in his offense and he is well worth investing in when and when not to get his new bag of tricks to try out.

Isaiah Stewart was also good. After a tough preseason in which he was still shaking off the rust from an off-season injury, Stewart was extremely strong against Vucevic. Beef Stew scored 12 points on 6-of-9 and added eight rebounds. Vuc, meanwhile, scored 15 points but took 21 shots to get them.

Jerami Grant also had a strong game, leading the Pistons with 24 points and scoring from deep (three 3s) and sliding further into the lane to get hard glances at the rim. He lost something when the team’s offense was completely wiped out in the second half, but it was good to see he continue his strong game from last season.

OK, now for the worse. The guard game was not good. Especially the point guard game and especially Killian Hayes. The sophomore had zero points on six shots and didn’t play a big role on the ground if the first action didn’t provide an opportunity to score or assist. Hayes was aggressive to the brim, which is nice in that respect, but he still couldn’t convert inside or hit his shots from the perimeter.

And when he got rid of the stone, he just stood on the edge while the rest of the list scouted things out and his husband paid minimal attention to it. Unfortunately, Backup Cory Joseph wasn’t much better. He struggled with his shot and trying to get an offensive rhythm going.

And when your point guards shit the bed, it leads Josh Jackson to force the problem, which he did tonight, especially in the fourth quarter.

It made you think how much smoother everything could look with rookie Cade Cunningham lying on the ground outside, but we’re not there yet.

The offense in general was pretty terrible as Detroit only shot 40% from the ground and 21.4% from below. You have to imagine that players like Joseph, Bey, Olynyk, and Jackson are generally reliable from 3+ rather than showing their joint 2 of 17 tonight.

A few more threesomes and this level of defense and Detroit has what it takes to be an improved team.

It looks like it was a highly competitive game where the young players showed a lot and still lost the pistons in the end. Sounds a lot like last year, doesn’t it?

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