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Bulls continue learning hard lessons in blowout loss to Pistons in Motown

DETROIT — The Bulls’ final 14-game stretch isn’t filled with many land mines.

The Lakers will limp into the United Center on Tuesday, and the Bulls (19-49) have two games left against the Wizards and two against the Knicks, as well as a visit to Phoenix. They also play the 76ers, who could be resting players for their postseason run, twice in the last week.

The Pistons completed a home-and-home sweep of the Bulls on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean coach Jim Boylen’s squad plans to take its foot off the pedal. The Bulls will try to win as many games as possible — draft-lottery position be damned.

The 131-108 loss to the Pistons didn’t sit well with Boylen, especially because it gave the division rivals the season-series sweep, but he likes what he’s hearing from his core players.

Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen have made their playoff aspirations known to Boylen, and they want to get there as soon as possible.

“It’s talked about,’’ Boylen said. “They understand our urgency to [be a playoff team], but it starts with playing the right way now, understanding that these are big games now. To be a playoff team, you’ve got to play two good halves, not just one. You’ve got to adjust when a team is making a run, all the things we talk about.’’

All the things they failed to do again against Detroit (34-31).

As was the case in the loss Friday, the Bulls’ start was solid and crisp. But the fall was just as quick and embarrassing.

They didn’t finish off the first half well, which led to a poor start to the second half.

It was the Bulls’ second consecutive loss and their fourth in the last five games.

“We’ve got to learn from the Pistons,’’ Boylen said. “They’ve got a couple of stars, good role players. They’ve got guys that play their minutes; they have a maturity. They’re a good example of maybe who we can be, how we have to grow, what we need to learn.’’


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Boylen knew the rematch would be difficult, especially with his leading scorer, LaVine, sidelined. He missed the game because of knee soreness and general “wear and tear.’’

And there was also the little matter of dealing with the physical nature of Detroit’s frontcourt.

Blake Griffin followed up his 27-point performance with 28 this time, and Andre Drummond, who had 20 points and 24 rebounds Friday, finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Markkanen, who had 17 points, had to deal with both of them.

“Obviously, [Griffin] is a physical player on the block,’’ Markkanen said. “He’s definitely up there [when it comes to physicality]. And Drummond is a different beast on the boards.’’

Markkanen admitted that he’ll watch film on both and look for some more tips.

It will take much more than that, however, if the Bulls want to make the jump that the Pistons have.

“Playoff teams get locked in,’’ forward Otto Porter Jr. said. ‘‘They’re all together as one — the starters, the bench. Everybody comes in and plays their role, does their job for the sake of the team and the sake of winning. We’ve definitely got to learn from that. How they control the game, how their coaches put them in a position where they can be successful and how they respond.

“We want to be that team next year. We want to be a playoff contender, making plays, doing good for us. We’re young, and we’re still learning.’’