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Bulls hoping impressive defensive showing in preseason has legs

It was only four games, but the Bulls finished with the top defense in the preseason. Does that carry weight when the games matter?

The Bulls had the best defense in the NBA during the preseason — a nice badge of honor — but they know it doesn’t mean squat once the ball is tossed up Wednesday night in the season opener in Detroit.

“Just a stepping stone,” guard Lonzo Ball said Tuesday. “We’ve just got to build on it every day. Defense is more about effort to me, and just playing for one another.”

If the Bulls can keep up that mentality when games matter, they know they’ll have not just a top-rated defense but also the offensive firepower to make them dangerous on both ends of the floor. Ball and fellow point guard Alex Caruso have been stressing that to their teammates.

“Defense is just a lot of effort at the forefront,” Caruso said. “You’ve got to care — the care factor has to be high — and after that be disciplined in the stuff that you do and put us in good schemes, good protections for us to execute. And if we go out there and play hard, a lot of that takes care of itself.”

The Bulls will be undersized against most teams, but they also have a lot of wing and backcourt players who are the same size with strong athletic ability, which should allow them to switch easily.

Against those taller teams, there will one key to success, especially.

“I think for us, it’s just going to be being physical,” Ball said. “It’s just about getting into the ball and playing with that pride.”

Clock watching

Forward Patrick Williams is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Pistons, but his minutes will be monitored closely, as

they were when he returned in the preseason finale.

Williams severely sprained his left ankle before the start of camp and was sidelined for weeks. His conditioning looked a bit iffy against the Grizzlies, but that was to be expected.

“I think it’s something that the medical [team] will want to evaluate,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “I think, coming into the first Memphis game, there was a feeling of maybe 18 to 24 minutes, somewhere in there. We’ll probably talk on our way to Detroit about what that would probably look like minute-wise, if there is a minute restriction.”

Sky high

Veteran guard DeMar DeRozan is friends with Candace Parker and was thrilled to see her win the WNBA championship with the Sky on Sunday.

“It’s incredible,’’ he said. “Especially for Candace, having a relationship, friendship with Candace, seeing her go from L.A. to Chicago, you come back home and win a championship. Her story has definitely been incredible. I’ve been following her whole career. To be able to witness that, that’s incredible. That’s what it’s all about, supporting women’s basketball and especially Chicago Sky in a city I’ve just come to. To witness that was awesome.”