Coming into Monday night's game, the Chicago Bulls wanted to start a back-to-back-to-back stretch in strong fashion, while the Detroit Pistons hoped to erase the enduring ineptitude of their last three games -- consecutive losses to the Bulls, 76ers and Knicks that marked the first time in 32 years the team dropped three straight games by a margin of 16 or more points. The Bulls won the first meeting between the two teams in Detroit on January 4 in blowout fashion and shot well as they shared the ball all night long, recording assists on 77.5 percent of their made baskets. In the rematch at the United Center on Monday night, Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose led the way to yet another comfortable win.
After a ho-hum start by both by both teams that left the Bulls up just five points with 59.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Bulls orchestrated a 21-3 run to pave the way for a 92-68 victory. After matching franchise failures over three decades old in the last several games, on this night the Pistons scored their fewest points ever against the Bulls in the entire 260-game head-to-head history between the two teams. After two full games against the Bulls in 2012, Detroit has never held a lead. Brutal.
With Rodney Stuckey out due to a groin injury, rookie point guard Brandon Knight got the start against Rose, but the matchup failed to produce any real fireworks. The reigning NBA MVP attacked the rim well against the rookie and scored 22 points on 8-16 shooting to go with 8 assists on the night. On the flip side, Knight actually played well through three quarters, but couldn't get the job done when the Pistons really needed a basket. He re-entered the game during Chicago's big fourth quarter run and hit a quick triple, but then proceeded to commit three turnovers on the next three possessions he used. The youngster finished with 13 points on 6-10 shooting, but only dished out a single assist. Like most nights, Derrick Rose thoroughly outplayed his counterpart.
The best performers for each team actually came from the starting frontcourt. Carlos Boozer rained jumpers over Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and anyone else Lawrence Frank threw at him. He produced 23 points on an incredibly efficient 9-13 shooting and also grabbed 8 rebounds. The lone bright spot for Detroit, outside of Brandon Knight's solid start to the game, came courtesy of Greg Monroe. The talented Georgetown product threw up a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) and added a career-high six assists for good measure.
With the game well in hand and the crowd feeling comfortable, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau called to the bench for veteran forward Brian Scalabrine to enter the game with 2:43 remaining in the fourth quarter. Bulls fans noticeably perked up after the substitution, and when Scalabrine hit a contested transition jumper while fading away (seriously) with 14.6 seconds remaining in the game, the United Center crowd erupted with their loudest cheers of the night. Here's video of the White Mamba making his appearance and the reaction it inspired from both the crowd and Bulls TV analyst Stacey King: