Halfway around the world, the Chicago Bulls finally delivered a win with a quality that had been missing all season — domination.
This Bulls season has been filled with up-and-down insanity — squandered leads, intense comebacks, razor-thin margins that force buzzer-beaters. That was not the case on the international stage against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday in the NBA Paris Game.
The Bulls did not trail for one second in an emphatic 126-108 victory against the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They won every quarter and held the Pistons at a double-digit deficit for the entire second half.
In the final minute, the Bulls were allowed to partake in a luxury they rarely have seen this season — pulling all their starters to let the deepest reserves wind down the clock, capped by rookie Dalen Terry’s final basket.
DeMar DeRozan thundered back after missing three games with a strained right quad, scoring his first points of the game with a monstrous right-handed dunk. He finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Zach LaVine wore a wrap on his right hand to contain swelling — an injury he suffered Jan. 11,against the Washington Wizards. Despite the hindrance, LaVine found success around the rim through dunks and layups, finishing with 30 points and four assists.
Fresh off a career-high-tying 43-point game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors, Nikola Vučević had 16 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. It was Vučević’s 10th consecutive double-double.
Derrick Jones Jr. decided to remain in international air throughout the game, throwing down four highflying dunks from lobs and off the bounce to fuel bench scoring — and ignite Bulls fans in the stands. Jones scored 12 points as he continues to absorb minutes from injured power forward Javonte Green.
Coby White scored the Bulls’ first eight points of the fourth quarter, extending a stretch of consistent shooting performances. He finished with 10 points and hit both of his 3-point attempts.
Neither team excelled from the 3-point line in a game focused mostly on paint and midrange scoring. The Bulls went 7-for-23 (30.4%) from behind the arccompared with the Pistons’ 8-for-34 (23.5%).
The Bulls often struggle to keep up on the offensive boards against young, athletic teams such as the Pistons. That remained the case Thursday. The Bulls were outrebounded 16-11 on the offensive boards but outscored the Pistons 12-10 in second-chance points.
Andre Drummond was the only Bulls player not to see the court. Coach Billy Donovan often holds the former Pistons star out of games against opponents that place Drummond at a stark speed disadvantage.
Stars in attendance
The game attracted famous fans from around the world — French soccer star Antoine Griezmann, model Naomi Campbell, Formula 1 drivers Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly and musical artists Pusha T, Lil Baby and Pharrell. French youth star Victor Wembanyama — who is expected to go No. 1 in the 2023 NBA draft — also was in attendance.
Former NBA star Tony Parker spoke before the game, and former Bulls star Joakim Noah was recognized. NBA legends Magic Johnson, Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace also were honored.
Green missed the trip after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement on his right knee Jan. 11, which did not leave enough recovery time for the backup forward to make the flight. Green had been in and out of the lineup since early December with the injury, which stemmed from a deep bone bruise.
Where they stand
The Bulls improved to 21-24 and remained in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls return home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.