By Jeff O'Brien

Zach LaVine can still score in bunches when needed.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 20: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls drives around Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Little Caesars Arena on October 20, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago won the game 94-88. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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LaVine scored 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter to spark sluggish Chicago, leading the Bulls to a 94-88 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night in the opener for both teams.

Detroit’s Jerami Grant was off on an 11-foot baseline jumper with 50 seconds left, missing a chance to tie it. The Bulls sealed the victory by making free throws.

LaVine, an Olympian and All-Star, had a block and a steal to help hold Detroit to 40% shooting.

“Zach really worked on both ends of the floor,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 20: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls tries to drive around Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Little Caesars Arena on October 20, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago won the game 94-88. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DeMar DeRozan had 17 points, and Lonzo Ball had 12 points in their Bulls debut as both players work on creating chemistry on the court with LaVine.

“This is going to be the learning curve for us,” Donovan said.

Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic had 10 points and 11 rebounds at halftime and finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

“We have a lot of work in front of us, but I give the guys a lot of credit for grinding through the game,” Donovan said.

The Pistons were without rookie guard Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick, whose NBA debut was delayed by a sprained right ankle.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 20: Cade Cunningham #2 and Hamidou Diallo #6 of the Detroit Pistons look on while playing the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena on October 20, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago won the game 94-88. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Grant led the Pistons with 24 points. Detroit’s Saddiq Bey scored 13 points, Isaiah Stewart added 12 points and reserve Kelly Olynyk scored 10 points in his debut with the team.

Detroit missed 7 of 8 shots to open the game and Chicago failed to connect on 10 of its first 13 shots. By the end of the dismal first quarter, the Pistons led 20-14 as both teams failed to make more than 30% of their shots.

“First-game jitters whatever it is, I know we’ll shoot better,” coach Dwane Casey said.

The Pistons led by as much as nine in the second quarter, but Bulls rallied to trail 44-40 at halftime. After the Pistons went ahead by nine points again in the third quarter, the LaVine-led Chicago pulled into a 69-all tie at the end of the quarter.

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 20: Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons tries to get around Patrick Williams #44 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on October 20, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, even when we had good looks,” Donovan said. “I was really happy that we gave ourselves a chance to win not playing very well on offense. That was a positive.”

PIVOTAL POINTS

Both teams had 17 turnovers, and Chicago took advantage more than Detroit did with seven more points in a game decided by six points.

“You can’t give them 22 points on turnovers when you’re struggling to score,” Casey said.

HE’S OK

Chicago’s Troy Brown, who was questionable to play due to an illness, had three fouls in four minutes.

“Troy, going through what he’s gone through, he probably wasn’t himself,” Donovan said.

TIP-INS

Bulls: Vucevic was called for a technical foul late in the first period. … Coby White (left shoulder) was out. … Chicago swept the season series against Detroit last season.

Pistons: Faces in the crowd at Detroit’s home opener included Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas, Dave Bing, and Ben Wallace along with 2004 NBA champion Rip Hamilton and rappers Big Sean and Kash Doll. … Isaiah Livers (right foot) and Chris Smith (left knee ) were out.

UP NEXT

Bulls: Hosts New Orleans on Friday night.

Pistons: At Chicago on Saturday night.

 

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