DETROIT — Even if the Pistons don’t end up being a playoff team this season, they look like they’ll be fun to watch, and play hard in most games.
Against the Chicago Bulls — who, by most accounts, will be a tough playoff-level team — the Pistons made a statement and stayed close throughout the regular-season opener.
In the end, they came up a little short in the final minutes, and the Bulls held on for a 94-88 victory on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jerami Grant had 24 points and six rebounds, Saddiq Bey 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Isaiah Stewart 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pistons. They get a rematch with the Bulls on Saturday at United Center.
The Pistons were in it until the final minute. After Grant hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:38 left, they were within 88-86, but they couldn’t get any closer. Zach LaVine (34 points, seven rebounds and four assists) hit six free throws in the final minute to push the lead to eight and the Pistons got two late baskets.
In the third quarter, the Pistons had a comfortable lead at 57-50, but LaVine got going and scored six straight points, with a dunk, two free throws on a clear-path foul and a baseline fadeaway.
Nikola Vucevic (15 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) added a 3-pointer and the Bulls pulled ahead, 59-57, at the 5:08 mark.
The Pistons answered with a back cut by Trey Lyles but Lonzo Ball (12 points, five rebounds and four assists) answered with a 3-pointer, and the Bulls were up by 3. The Pistons responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Grant and Cory Joseph, but LaVine added another three-point play.
The Bulls took a 71-69 lead into the fourth quarter after consecutive baskets by rookie Ayo Dosunmu in the final minutes of the period.
The Pistons jumped back ahead after an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter, with a 3-pointer by Josh Jackson, a lay-in by Kelly Olynyk off a nice pass by Lyles and a three-point play by Hamidou Diallo.
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