Pistons, Bulls learning on the fly heading into their first meeting
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CHICAGO -- The Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls got off to very different starts to their respective seasons.
Both were missing starters and both are attempting to use the early part of the new season to begin to lay a foundation for what is yet to come.
As the Pistons and Bulls prepare to face one another on Saturday in Chicago's home opener at the United Center, how they respond to their opening performance will provide a sign of what they are each made of moving forward.
The Pistons provided first-year coach Dwane Casey a victory in his Detroit debut with a 103-100 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. The Pistons, who have shifted to a new style of playing smaller, won despite missing two starters -- Stanley Johnson, who did not play due to a toe injury, and Reggie Bullock, who missed the season-opener with the flu. But the Pistons won behind Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, who combined for 50 points and 28 rebounds to pace the Pistons.
The double threat opened up Detroit's offense, which the Pistons are hoping to use throughout the season starting Saturday against the Bulls.
"It's key for us," Pistons guard Langston Galloway told reporters on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Our strength is inside and when everything is clicking, our outside is working and our inside is working we're a tough team to stop. Just being able to rely on the inside first, knowing where our strengths are and go from there."
Despite slipping past a Nets team that isn't expected to make much noise this season, Casey acknowledged after Wednesday's victory that his team is going to net time to click as he implements a new system.
But considering the Pistons were short-handed and still found a way to hold on was a positive sign in the midst of plenty of teachable moments, Casey told reporters Thursday.
"It's always a good time for teaching moments, win, lose, draw," Casey said. "There's always good teaching moments. It's easier to be a little harder when you win. We had a lot of teaching moments out there too many to count. I was expecting the first-game jitters to start the game and we had them."
The Bulls, meanwhile, will attempt to bounce back after suffering a 127-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Chicago played without Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio -- all of whom are injured -- along with Kris Dunn, who missed the game due to the birth of his son. The Bulls won't know until Saturday if Dunn will be available against the Pistons.
The Bulls shot 60.7 from the field in the first quarter but did not do enough on the defensive end to keep from falling behind by 16 points early in the third quarter.
The Bulls, who got 30 points from Zach LaVine and 20 from Bobby Portis, never recovered as the defensive effort just wasn't good enough, coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters.
"It's a commitment," Hoiberg said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We have to do a better job of getting back. And the other thing is communicating. We have to get matched up."
The Bulls, like the Pistons, hope to make the most of the teachable moments.
"We came out ready to play, for sure," LaVine told reporters Thursday. "But there are four quarters to a game. We have to play defense a little more. Second quarter, we got a little stagnant, third quarter, they came and just molly whopped us and we couldn't recover from it.?
Updated October 19, 2018