Once upon a time Michael Jordan tormented the Detroit Pistons. Now it seems as if that responsibility has fallen into the hands of Derrick Rose, and he hasn’t skipped a beat.
Rose looks to lead the Bulls to an 11th straight victory over the Pistons when the Central Division rivals meet Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Chicago (54-20) is enjoying its longest run in the series since Jordan helped the Bulls win 19 in a row from April 12, 1993-March 22, 1997.
Rose’s first game against Detroit (26-48) was a 104-98 loss Dec. 23, 2008, in which he scored 10 points. He’s played in nine games during this win streak, averaging 24.7 points and 52.9 percent shooting along with 6.9 assists per game.
The third-year guard is a leading MVP candidate, but he’s more concerned with helping Chicago gain the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls, winners of 13 of 15, defeated Minnesota 108-91 on Wednesday.
Chicago bounced back from a 97-85 home loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
“I think we’re getting better, almost every game,” Rose said. “Last game of course we didn’t do it, but tonight we came out and played aggressive, played with an edge.”
Joakim Noah sat out Wednesday with a sprained right ankle and will be a game-time decision. He has missed two of Chicago’s first three meetings with Detroit.
Noah’s absence may not be a problem as fellow big man Carlos Boozer has averaged 29.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in two games against the Pistons this season. Boozer recorded his second double-double in three games with 24 points and 14 boards Wednesday.
Chicago’s unselfish, team-oriented play continues to draw raves around the league. The Bulls have recorded at least 30 assists three times in their last six games, with 31 against the Timberwolves.
“That’s a team right there,” Minnesota guard Wayne Ellington said. “Them guys play together, man. All the way around. They play together, communicate. They do it the right way.”
Teamwork and chemistry have been season-long problems for Detroit, which is two defeats shy of its first back-to-back 50-loss seasons since 1993-94 and 1994-95.
The Pistons suffered their fourth loss in five games and ninth straight on the road Wednesday, 111-101 to Indiana. Detroit beat the Pacers 100-88 four days earlier at home.
“We’re trying different things right now, trying to get something going so we can win that road game,” coach John Kuester said. “But I’ll tell you, our energy is so much better at home, compared to on the road.”
Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to lead Detroit with 24 points. Tracy McGrady, however, had two points in 11 minutes in his return to the lineup after missing a game with a sore back.
Pistons reserve guard Ben Gordon is 0-7 against his former team, averaging 10.7 points and 37.5 percent shooting. Gordon has gone scoreless in two of his last four games and is averaging a career-worst 11.8 points on the season.
Center Ben Wallace is day to day after missing the last four contests with a sore left knee.
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