Detroit — Two is that number that the Pistons just can’t seem to get over.
For the second time this season, the Pistons reached a two-game win streak, and for the second time, they didn’t make it to three.
The Pistons were in control in the first half but gave up the lead in the third quarter and faded down the stretch, taking a 100-86 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Ironically, Bulls also ended the other two-game win streak, with a three-point win at Chicago on Feb. 17.
It wasn’t that close this time.
Jerami Grant had 26 points, Mason Plumlee, 12 points and 10 rebounds, Frank Jackson 12 points and five rebounds and Isaiah Stewart 11 points for the Pistons (12-30), who don’t play again until Wednesday.
The difference was the third quarter, when things seemed to get away from them.
“Right before halftime and right after halftime because we had nine turnovers in the third quarter,” Casey said. “It seemed like they scored on every single one of them.”
The Pistons shot just 16% (4-of-25) from 3-point range and were outrebounded, 52-37. The Pistons were ahead until late in the second quarter. Daniel Gafford (eight points and 11 rebounds) scored six straight Chicago points midway through the quarter to trim the lead to 37-35. The Pistons answered with a hook from Plumlee and a jumper from Jackson to boost the lead back to six.
“We missed some kick-outs and tried to force some tough (shots),” Jackson said.
The Bulls (19-22) responded with a 7-2 run, with a 3-pointer and a drive by Lauri Markkanen (16 points and eight rebounds) and two free throws from Zach LaVine to get back within one point. That ignited an 11-4 end to the half and the Bulls had their first lead, 46-45, since early in the first quarter.
“We lost that locked-in focus right before halftime and the frustration set in,” Casey said. “It turned into turnovers and that’s when they took off.”
In the third period, the Bulls had another run to start, led by Thaddeus Young and Lavine (18 points) to push the lead to double digits, 65-54, at the 7:01 mark.
The Pistons could cut into the lead and the margin was 10 entering the fourth quarter after a Jackson lay-in to finish the period. Jackson had back-to-back drives early in the fourth quarter, but the Bulls kept the pressure on, with a 12-2 run that broke the game open with a 90-71 lead.
Grant got the Pistons going early with two straight drives to the basket and an 8-0 run, with three-point plays by Plumlee and Grant pushed them ahead, 12-6. Grant scored their next seven points and Stewart had consecutive baskets to push it to 23-17.
Dennis Smith Jr. (seven points, four rebounds and five assists) got going in the second quarter with a pair of jumpers and had some good pick-and-roll plays with Stewart, but the Bulls surged to take the lead at halftime.