Pistons-Bulls Preview

After a disappointing end to their longest winning streak in two
months, a matchup with the sputtering Detroit Pistons should help
the Chicago Bulls bounce back.

While they’re likely to be short-handed again, the Bulls return
home Sunday night looking for an 18th straight victory over the
Pistons.

Chicago (39-32) matched a season high with its third straight
win when it ended Miami’s 27-game run Wednesday, and appeared to be
on its way to another victory Saturday with a 12-point lead in
Dallas with 3:33 to go.

Instead, the Bulls were denied their fourth straight win as the
Mavericks closed the contest on a 15-1 run and Dirk Nowitzki hit a
3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to give Dallas a 100-98
victory.

“This was definitely a tough loss,” guard Kirk Hinrich said.
“We just didn’t finish it out.”

Chicago’s streak – its longest since Jan. 21-25 – had come at an
unlikely time, considering the team continues to be without a
number of key players. Derrick Rose (knee) and Richard Hamilton
(lower back) aren’t expected to return Sunday, while Joakim Noah
(right foot) and Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) will be
game-time decisions.

Noah’s return could be big for the Bulls since he’s averaged
19.8 points and 17.5 rebounds in his last four games against the
Pistons.

Nate Robinson, who hit all seven of his 3-point attempts on the
way to 25 points Saturday, scored nine of his 11 points early in
the fourth to lead the Bulls back from 17 down for their 17th
straight victory over Detroit in an 85-82 home win on Jan. 23.
That’s the league’s second-longest active streak against one
opponent.

The Bulls haven’t lost to the Pistons since Dec. 23, 2008, and
have reeled off 13 consecutive regular-season victories at the
United Center over Detroit since Feb. 24, 2006.

Carlos Boozer heads into this contest averaging 20.8 points on
58.7 percent shooting and 12.5 boards over his last four games.

Luol Deng has totaled 53 points and has hit 8 of 15 from 3-point
range in his last two contests, but has averaged just 8.8 on 32.1
percent shooting in his last five in this series.

The Bulls have scored 101.0 per game – 8.0 above their season
average – and made 30 of 69 (43.5 percent) from beyond the arc in
their last three. They should be able to keep it going against the
Pistons, who have allowed 107.3 points and 42.8 percent shooting
from 3-point range in their last nine games.

After trailing Toronto by one point at the half Friday, Detroit
(24-49) was outscored 36-15 in the third quarter on the way to a
99-82 home loss.

Jonas Jerebko had 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting to lead the
Pistons, who have lost 12 of 13 this month.

“It just doesn’t add up when you’re competitive for a half,”
coach Lawrence Frank said. “It just snowballed on us. This is
embarrassing.”

Rookie Andre Drummond could give the team a lift after scoring
17 on 8-of-10 shooting in 19 minutes in his first action since
missing 22 games because of a stress fracture in his lower
back.

The Pistons, 9-26 on the road, are averaging 85.4 points over
their last five games overall, and 80.9 in their last seven in
Chicago.