The Detroit Pistons haven’t won since they defeated the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 28, a stretch of seven losses. The Pistons will try to collect their first victory in November at the Bulls’ expense in Chicago on Sunday night.
Injuries have ravaged the Pistons in their first season under new head coach Monty Williams. They have been competitive throughout much of their current slide but just don’t have enough answers during crunch time.
The last two games were a case in point. They led in Milwaukee by 10 points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t close it out and lost 120-118. In their first in-season tournament game, Detroit built a 16-point, first-half lead but fell apart in the second half as Philadelphia claimed a 114-106 victory on Friday.
“Our guys are fighting their tails off,” Williams said.
Detroit has been operating without key rotation players, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, Alec Burks and Monte Morris. Jaden Ivey has been out this week with a viral infection, though he may return on Sunday.
Now, another concern has cropped up. Dynamic second-year center Jalen Duren has been battling a right ankle injury and couldn’t finish Friday’s game. He’s likely to miss multiple games.
“I don’t want to get into time and all that, but when a guy can’t finish a game, that’s something we have to discuss and see if we can help him get stronger before we put him back on the floor,” Williams said.
Yet Williams won’t use the injuries as a crutch for the team’s 2-8 start.
“Not gonna happen,” Williams said. “We can throw that out the window. We’ve shown that we can play against anybody. We have to sustain it. Everybody we put on the floor is trained to produce and be productive for four quarters. We’re not doing that.”
Duren had 23 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in the Pistons’ 118-102 win over the Bulls last month. That snapped Detroit’s 15-game losing streak against its Central Division rival.
Chicago has lost four of its last five games but hasn’t played since an overtime defeat to Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Bulls’ biggest trouble spot has been the power forward position. Their starters at that position have produced 3.6 points per game. Patrick Williams began the season as the starter and Torrey Craig replaced him in the lineup the last four games.
“I think right now I like the way Patrick is playing and what he’s doing (as a reserve),” coach Billy Donovan said. “Not to say it couldn’t change. Things could definitely change for us. But I think for the minutes that Patrick has gotten coming off the bench, I think he’s done a good job. He’s taking advantage of his opportunities. Just in my conversations — not that we’ve talked about it a lot — but I think he feels comfortable with where he’s at right now.”
Chicago will be the fresher team on Sunday, but it won’t have many breathers the rest of the month. The Bulls have 11 more games remaining in November.
“Every game is tough, regardless of who you’re playing,” swingman Zach LaVine said. “It can be the No. 1 seed in the East or the bottom seed. Every team can win. It’s us worrying about what we can do instead of worrying about the future.”
–Field Level Media