DETROIT — These games still matter to Kris Dunn.
The Bulls’ seventh loss in the last nine games hurt, but it wasn’t because of a lack of fight from the starting point guard.
Ask Blake Griffin.
Griffin and Dunn got tangled up and exchanged contact in the third quarter of the 99-83 loss to the Pistons. Griffin said something to Dunn, and Dunn immediately got right into his ear, making sure that Griffin knew there would be repercussions if his actions continued.
“It doesn’t matter if it was Blake or not,’’ Dunn said. “I’m not backing down from nobody. At the end of the day, I’m a man, and I felt like he bumped me a couple times during the game, and I’m not just going to let that slide. So no harm by it, but I just had to let him know that we’re not going to keep doing that the whole game.
“Oh, yeah, I’m still fighting. This matters to me. I remember when I didn’t get a lot of playing time [last year]. I’m not taking none of this for granted. These minutes mean something. I’m in a great spot this year and very appreciative of the role that I’m in. I’m fighting every possession.’’
Dunn and the Bulls (22-43), who jumped out to a 26-21 lead in the first quarter, wanted these games in Detroit and Atlanta to be a business trip.
They even had a familiar look to them, with Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday starting in the wake of the league office’s reaction to the veterans being mostly inactive since the All-Star break.
Lopez wasted little time making his presence felt, going 4-for-4 from the field and hitting a three-pointer.
Considering all the recent down-time, Lopez has had time to work on his three-pointer.
“It was nice to see that go down,’’ Lopez said. “I’ve been practicing that shot, and my teammates and the coaching staff have confidence in me.’’
By the second quarter, however, the Pistons woke up and took a 49-47 lead going into halftime.
The Bulls were outscored 24-15 in the third, shooting just 6-for-25 (24 percent) from the field. In the fourth, they shot 33 percent from the field and allowed the Pistons to shoot 53 percent.
Cameron Payne led the Bulls with 17 points, and Dunn had 13. Bobby Portis had an awful night, going 1-for-10 from the field with four turnovers.
Zach LaVine also struggled, finishing with eight points on 3-for-15 shooting. He was also frustrated over a lack of foul calls.
“Yeah, I’m frustrated, but can’t say too much about the refs in the media, so just leave it at that,’’ LaVine said. “It’s frustrating at times but didn’t go my way.’’
The Bulls will play the Hawks on Sunday. With only 17 games left, Dunn wants to make sure that he isn’t the only one out there with some fight.
“I’m not real concerned with this group doing that,’’ Dunn said. “We’ve got young players in here, good guys. We’ve got a lot of talent. Just keep going hard, keep giving that good effort.’’
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