Pistons-Bulls Preview

Even without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls have shown they can

be an elite team if they defend and rebound at a high level.

That formula has served them well in years past when Rose has

been out, and it’s what the Bulls will look to do for the remainder

of the season with their star guard sidelined because of another

knee injury.

Chicago will continue that approach against a team it’s

dominated in recent years when it hosts the Detroit Pistons on

Saturday night.

Facing two-time defending NBA champion Miami on Thursday, the

Bulls defended and rebounded as well as they have all season.

Chicago (8-9) held the high-scoring Heat to 41.6 percent shooting,

Miami’s lowest of 2013-14, and won the rebounding battle 49-27.

The Bulls also had 24 second-chance points and assisted on 24 of

37 field goals in a 107-87 victory.

“We never really took our foot off the gas pedal,” guard Kirk

Hinrich told the team’s official website. “I think it was our most

consistent defensive game, our most consistent rebounding game, our

most consistent game moving the ball and making it hop.”

The Bulls are among the league leaders in field-goal percentage

defense (42.3) and rebounds per game (46.5), but they only average

95.3 points.

“To see a win like this is good for the team moving forward,

helps everyone’s confidence,” said forward Luol Deng, who is

averaging 26.2 points in six games since Rose went down. “It

reminds everyone to believe in what we are doing.”

The good news for the Bulls is that they have owned the Pistons

(9-10)recently, especially at home. The Bulls have taken the last

14 regular-season meetings in Chicago by an average of 11.1 points

and have won 19 of 20 matchups overall, including a 99-79 road

victory Nov. 27.

The Pistons lead the NBA with 14.1 offensive rebounds per game

and average 99.9 points, but when they met Chicago last month, poor

outside shooting cost them. Detroit went 2 of 12 from 3-point range

and was outscored 48-26 in the second half.

This is the last stop on a three-game road trip for the Pistons.

Detroit has already beaten the Heat and Milwaukee, and will be

looking to win its fourth straight overall and on the road.

The Pistons haven’t won four consecutive away games since a

five-game stretch Dec. 19, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008.

“It feels really good,” coach Maurice Cheeks said of the road

success. “I think we are playing good basketball. We are getting a

lot of good performances out of a lot of people.”

The Pistons’ frontcourt has been on a tear lately. Center Andre

Drummond is averaging 21.7 points and 18.7 rebounds over the last

three games, forward Greg Monroe had 18 points and a season-best 17

boards against the Bucks and Josh Smith is averaging 17.3 points in

the past three.

“We are really starting to jell,” Drummond said. “We’re starting

to find ourselves and find an identity for ourselves.”

Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for just 28 points in the

first meeting with Chicago, which was led by Deng’s 27.