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DeMar DeRozan scored 16 of 36 points in the fourth quarter and the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 114-108 on Wednesday night to end a five-game losing streak.
“There’s no question he’s playing the best basketball of his career,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey, who coached DeRozan for eight years in Toronto. “He doesn’t have the analysis on his side, because he uses the mid-range jumper, but he gets to the line. We gave him 13 free throws tonight, and he beat us.”
Zach LaVine added 25 points for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic had 21 points. They won despite only three 3-pointers.
“We have to stop putting ourselves in holes like we did again tonight,” DeRozan said. “We can’t wait for the fourth quarter to get aggressive.”
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Cade Cunningham had 22 points for the Pistons, but no one else scored more than 12.
“I love seeing how he develops,” DeRozan said of Cunningham. “You don’t see a lot of young guys with his patience, and he’s got the size, skill and confidence to make plays. He’s got a great coach too.”
Detroit had won three games in a row.
“He’s obviously a great player and he showed that tonight,” Pistons center Kelly Olynyk said. “What makes him so tough is that in today’s NBA you usually try to get guys to shoot mid-range jumpers, but that’s how he kills you. .”
The Pistons led 99-92 with 8:59 to go before DeRozan and Zach LeVine took over.
DeRozan’s layup gave the Bulls a 101-99 lead with 5:44 to go and, after a miss from Detroit, LeVine made two free throws to end an 11-0 run. Two more baskets from DeRozan made it 109-101, and the Pistons couldn’t hit enough shots in the stretch.
“I don’t know what changed in the streak, but that’s definitely the difference in the game,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “We played with a level of desperation in the fourth quarter that was good to see on both ends of the field. Our defense was a huge, huge factor in the fourth.”
Neither team led by more than eight points through the first three quarters, but Hamadou Diallo’s dunk gave the Pistons a 91-84 advantage going into the fourth.
“They just passed us for three quarters,” DeRozan said. “In the fourth quarter, we started playing defense again and going into transition. That’s how we have to play to win games.”
Bulls: Vucevic missed Chicago’s loss to the 76ers on Thursday night with a hamstring strain. He played 29:11 despite being limited to six-minute periods by team medical staff.
“Obviously I’m used to playing longer than that, but I had to do everything I could to make it work,” he said. “I felt pretty good and the guys gave me a lot of open looks.”
Pistons: C Isaiah Stewart (knee), G Frank Jackson (back) and G Killian Hayes (adductor) missed the game.
UNRIVALED FREE THROWS
The Bulls were 31-35 from the free throw line, including 11-13 in the fourth quarter. The Pistons finished 13-17 and made one of two attempts in fourth.
“I’m going to have to go back and watch the movie to see how we ended up in this position,” Casey said.
Bulls: Host Cleveland on Saturday night.
Pistons: In Boston Friday night.