Detroit Pistons lack energy and execution against Bulls, lose 126-108 in Paris

the Detroit Pistons have enjoyed plenty of highlights in Paris this week. But their matinee game against the Chicago Bulls at Accor Arena fell flat.

The Pistons (12-36) were blown out by the Bulls, 126-108. Detroit struggled on both ends of the floor, shooting just 40.2% overall and 23.5% (8-for-34) from 3 while allowing the Bulls to shoot 54.3% overall. Chicago also struggled from outside, but made up for it by shooting 62.3% (43-for-69) inside the arc. Detroit cut the deficit to eight midway through the fourth quarter following a pair of 3-pointers from Isaiah Livers, but the Bulls used a late 10-0 run to put the game away.

Chicago Bulls Patrick Williams, center, dunks during the NBA basketball game between Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons at the Accor Arena in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

Chicago Bulls Patrick Williams, center, dunks during the NBA basketball game between Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons at the Accor Arena in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

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Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 25 points, Hamidou Diallo continued his surge with 17 points and Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey scored 16 points each. After missing five games with right ankle soreness, Jalen Duren returned and tallied 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Zach LaVine (30 points) and DeMar DeRozan (26 points, nine rebounds, five assists) feasted against the Pistons’ poor defense. Nikola Vucevic (16 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) also had a strong stat line.

Victor Wembanyama of The NBA G League Ignite looks on prior to the NBA match between Chicago Bulls v Detroit Pistons at The Accor Arena on January 19, 2023 in Paris, France.

Victor Wembanyama of The NBA G League Ignite looks on prior to the NBA match between Chicago Bulls v Detroit Pistons at The Accor Arena on January 19, 2023 in Paris, France.

Wembanyama commands attention courtside

The Pistons and Bulls may have been the main draws, but Victor Wembanyama’s courtside presence stole the attention of Pistons Twitter before the game.

Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 French phenom who is widely expected to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 draft, greeted a host of former NBA players at the game, including Hall of Fame ex-Piston Ben Wallace and Hall of Fame ex-Spur Tony Parker (who is also from France), before taking his seat. It added a new element of intrigue to the game — a generational prospect attending a game played by a team that will have some of the best odds to draft him in June.

The Pistons, who fell to 24 games under .500 with Thursday’s loss, own the worst winning percentage in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the NBA. The teams with the three worst winning percentages in the NBA will have equal 14% chances of landing the top pick in May’s draft lottery. Wembanyama would immediately headline the team’s “restoring,” even with 2021 No. 1 overall Cade Cunningham still on the roster. We’ve never seen a prospect like Wembanyama, whose mobility at his size, defensive instincts and shooting touch gives him All-NBA potential.

Wembanyama is from the Paris suburbs and plays for Metropolitans 92 in France’s top pro league, LNB Pro A, which is also based in the Paris area. He’s averaging 21.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, two assists and 3.2 blocks while shooting 29.5% from 3 on 5.4 attempts per game.

Duren shines in return

Earlier this week, it wasn’t clear if Duren would be available for Thursday’s game — not because of his ankle injury, but because of his passport situation. The 19-year-old rookie lost his passport, according to The Athleticbut found it and was able to join the team on Wednesday.

Duren looked sharp in his first game since Jan. 6, tallying his ninth double-double of the season.

Duren had his usual athletic dunks and rebounds, but also showcased better touch as a shooter and interior scorer than he has shown all season. He knocked down an 11-foot jumper early in the second quarter, and maneuvered around Chicago’s defense for a spinning post layup late in the third quarter for his fourth bucket of the night.

Thursday was his first time coming off the bench since Dec. 7, with starts in his 15 previous games. It’s unclear if coach Dwane Casey wanted to limit his minutes in his first game back — Duren only tallied 18 minutes, his second-lowest total since Dec. 6 — or prioritized staggering Duren and Isaiah Stewart while Marvin Bagley III and Nerlens Noel are out.

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons look lifeless in Paris against Chicago Bulls, 126-108

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