Hot shooting Bulls blowout Pistons
CHICAGO (AP) — Out of the rotation at times and with his contract set to expire, Nikola Mirotic understands what’s at stake for him as the season winds down.
Games like this certainly don’t hurt.
Mirotic scored a season-high 28 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 117-95 in a matchup between struggling teams fighting for a playoff spot on Wednesday night.
Mirotic shot 12 of 15 and made 4 of 6 3-point attempts to lead Chicago to an easy win after dropping eight of 10. He’s set to become a restricted free agent, meaning his future is in question.
“I just want to prove those guys who trusted me — the Chicago Bulls,” he said. “They … gave me a chance. I was a first-round pick in 2011. I want to play well here.”
Jimmy Butler added 16 points and 12 assists. Joffrey Lauvergne filled in for suspended center Robin Lopez and outplayed Andre Drummond with 17 points and seven rebounds. Rookie Paul Zipser added a career-high 15 points as the Bulls moved into a ninth-place tie with Detroit in the Eastern Conference.
Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris each scored 14 for the Pistons, losers of five of six. Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds but scored just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.
“It starts with me,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I’m the person in charge. I selected everybody in that locker room. I decide who plays. I put lineups out there, you know. I decide on defensive coverages. I call plays. So it’s all on me. I’m not running from that. We’ve got to try to find a way to get (the players) back.”
The Bulls honored late general manager Jerry Krause with a moment of silence before the game. A Chicago native who oversaw a dynasty that produced two championship three-peats in the 1990s, he died at age 77 on Tuesday.
The Bulls saw a 13-point lead shrink to two with about a minute left in the second quarter. But layups by Lauvergne and Mirotic sent Chicago to the locker room up by six. They also started a 19-2 run that made it 74-55 in the third, essentially putting away this game.
“We are trying to stay together,” Mirotic said. “After a tough loss (at Toronto on Tuesday night), we came here in the mindset to play like a team because there is no more time to blow chances like that. We need to win the rest of our games.”