LaVine hits for season-high 43 points, Bulls handle Pistons

The Bulls figured out how to beat a team below them in the standings. They finished the game on a 17-3 run to beat Detroit 132-118 on Friday at the United Center, winning for the fifth time in the last six.

Maybe more importantly, they took a step toward being a true multi-star system.

Zach LaVine was on fire from the start and scored a season-high 43 points. It was his highest point total since collecting 50 in Atlanta on April 9, 2021.

He never scored 40 points last season, which might be attributed to his lingering knee injury, which required arthroscopic surgery ion May.

But he also took a bit of a back seat to DeMar DeRozan, who set career-highs in several categories and was named all-NBA second team.

"Any given night, one of us can go off for a game like that," LaVine said. "You don't want to count on it. I think offensively we're fine each and every game. One of us three or four, somebody's going to have a good game and be able to carry the offense. I think it's defensively where we're all locked in, connected we're going to be good."

LaVine ended an 18-point first quarter with a one-handed dunk off a fast-break alley-oop from Coby White. It served as proof the two-time dunk champ was feeling healthy again.

"Coby, great passer," he said. "Me and Cobe played together longest I think on this team. I gave him just a little point. I think it was at the buzzer, so I was just a little hyped up. Being able to get up and dunk emphatically like that again, I'm starting to feel good."

The game was closer than the final score made it look. The Pistons were even at 115-115 with 4:23 left after a Saddiq Bey 3-pointer. The go-ahead points were a pair of DeRozan free throws on the next possession.

The Bulls started pouring it on after Alex Caruso hit a corner 3-pointer off a pass from LaVine to make it 122-116. They added a LaVine 3-pont play and Nikola Vucevic corner 3 off a pass from DeRozan to go up by 12 with 1:39 remaining.

The Pistons were missing point guard Killian Hayes and guard Hamidou Diallo, who were serving suspensions from Wednesday's scuffle against Orlando.

The Bulls pulled off an exciting overtime win over Milwaukee on Wednesday as DeRozan scored 42 points. This time, he had a quieter night, finishing with 22 points.

"That's the Zach we all know," DeRozan said. "He got us going early, he set the table for the rest of the game, stayed aggressive, hit his shots, was getting downhill. That's the Zach we all know."

The alternating 40-point games? It seems like a solid formula for the Bulls, but no one knows who is going to be hit on any given night.

"I'm with whatever. It can be Coby have 40," DeRozan said. "As long as the end goal is win and we compete at a high level, I could care less, to be honest. I really don't care, whoever get it going. Just the competitor in me, I'm always try to go out there and compete to win, but like I said, anybody else got it rolling, I'm happy. I'm all smiles."

LaVine said he's hoping to play in Saturday's second leg of back-to-back games against Cleveland. The Bulls then play the Cavs on the road Monday.

Caruso returned after missing three games with a right shoulder sprain. He also spent time in concussion protocol after colliding with Atlanta's DeAndre Hunter last week. Ayo Dosunmu remained in the starting lineup.

White was back on the floor after leaving Wednesday's game early with a leg injury. Derrick Jones Jr. missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, shoots against Detroit Pistons' Cory Joseph (18) and Isaiah Stewart during the first half on Friday. Associated Press
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