Chicago Bulls beat Detroit Pistons in opener without No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Zach LaVine can still score in bunches when needed.
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.
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.
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.