Pistons at Bulls preview
Chicago’s offense failed to score more than 98 points during its five-game losing streak, while giving up an average of 109.2 points.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose is having a solid year, but his scoring (15.6) and assists (5.2) are down slightly from his 16.8 points and 6.3 assists as a rookie.
The Bulls would really be in trouble if it wasn’t for the resurgence of Luol Deng, who is leading the team in scoring at 18.3 per game and looks healthy after missing 33 games last season due to injury.
Chicago hoped John Salmons would pick up some of the scoring load left by the departure of Ben Gordon to Detroit, but Salmons has been inconsistent this season and his scoring average has dropped to 14.2 from 18.3 last season.
Center Joakim Noah is building on his success late last season and is averaging a double-double (11.5 points and 12.6 rebounds) as well as 1.6 blocks per game.
Rookie Taj Gibson has done a nice job filling in the for the injured Tyrus Thomas, who remains out with a forearm fracture. Kirk Hinrich is also out with a left thumb sprain.
Key matchup — Pistons Ben Wallace vs. Bulls Joakim Noah: A huge part of Detroit’s win over Atlanta on Sunday was the Pistons dominance on the boards. Wallace has shown flashes of his old self for most of the season and has showed he can still rebound with the best. Noah, meanwhile, has shown he is one of the best rebounders in the league and is third in the league in rebounding (12.1 per game). Noah has nine double-doubles in 15 games this season and would have two more, but failed to score in double figures in two games he had double-digit rebounds. Wallace will likely be ready to go against his former team, who traded him away during the 2007-08 season.
The skinny — Wednesday’s game starts a big week for the Pistons, who play two Central Division foes in the Bulls and Milwaukee (on Friday) and Washington on Sunday. All three teams could be competing for the final playoff spots in the East so these game will likely count double when it’s all said and done. The Pistons (6-11) will do themselves a big favor by winning at least two of three and try to get closer to .500.
Detroit might have to do it without its four highest paid players. Ben Gordon (ankle) and Charlie Villanueva (nose) will be game-time decisions, while Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back) remain out.
The starting five of Chucky Atkins, Rodney Stuckey, Wallace, Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerekbo had some success Sunday, but coach John Kuester hasn’t set anything in stone. Will Bynum and Villanueva provided a huge boost off the bench in Sunday’s win, but Villanueva could be out.
If Gordon remains out, the Pistons will need a similar game out of Stuckey, who had 23 points and eight assists on Sunday. Stuckey will also play a huge role defensively, whether he is guarding Rose, Salmons or Deng.
If Gordon plays look for a big game out of him. It will be his first game back in Chicago after the Bulls elected not to offer him a contract in the offseason despite Gordon leading the team in scoring in each of the last four seasons.