Pistons-Bulls Preview

Keyed by consistent success at home, the Chicago Bulls haven’t dropped a season series to the Detroit Pistons in almost a decade.

To prevent that from happening, the Bulls must continue that dominance at the United Center on Friday night.

Excluding the playoffs, Chicago is 28-7 against Detroit since last losing the season series in 2005-06. That includes a 92-75 loss Dec. 7, 2013, for the Bulls’ only blemish in the last 17 meetings at home.

Chicago (45-30) opened this season’s four-game series with a 102-91 home victory Nov. 10, then shot a combined 42.6 percent and scored 91 points each time while dropping both road matchups. It’s the first time since 2005-06 that the Bulls won’t win the series.

Though the Pistons (29-46) have reached 100 points once while shooting 42.0 percent over those last 17 meetings at Chicago, the Bulls have learned to take nothing for granted.

"You can’t let your guard down in this league," coach Tom Thibodeau said after Chicago blew a 19-point lead and was outscored 54-19 in the final 19 minutes of a 107-91 defeat to the Pistons on March 21.

Chicago totaled as many points and looked almost as inept while being outscored 25-17 in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 95-91 loss at Milwaukee.

Tied with Toronto for third place in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls averaged 104.5 points and shot 49.0 percent to win five of the previous six games. However, they hit 41.9 percent of their shots, went 5 of 26 from 3-point range, missed 13 free throws, were outscored 23-10 in second-chance points and committed 20 turnovers.

"The loss at this point of the season is something I’m not happy about," said All-Star Pau Gasol, who recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds for his league-leading 49th double-double. "We should be, as we have been, sharper."

Looking to become the first Bull since Charles Oakley in 1986-87 to record at least 50 doubles-doubles, Gasol has two in the first three games with the Pistons. He had 27 points and 10 boards in last month’s matchup as Chicago played without Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.

While Rose’s return from another knee surgery remains uncertain, Butler has averaged 21.3 points in four games since missing 11 with an elbow strain. He scored 30 in a 100-91 loss at Detroit on Feb. 20.

It’s uncertain if Chicago will have backup guard Kirk Hinrich available after he injured his knee Wednesday.

Chicago, however, could catch a break if Pistons forward Greg Monroe (knee) misses a 10th consecutive game and guard Reggie Jackson isn’t fully healthy after falling ill earlier in the week then rolling his ankle in the second quarter of Wednesday’s 102-78 loss at Charlotte.

Jackson finished with eight assists and seven rebounds but scored nine on 3-of-16 shooting. He averaged 22.7 points and shot 54.3 percent while Detroit won five of the previous six. That stretch began with 22 and 11 assists against Chicago.

The Pistons averaged 106.3 points on 46.6 percent shooting over those six contests before hitting on 35.2 percent during their second-lowest scoring game of the season.

"When you’re not ready to play, it’s going to be a long night," coach Stan Van Gundy said.