Bulls paint a beautiful picture while beating Pistons in Paris

The Bulls were chosen to spend a week in Paris right in the middle of the NBA season, which meant the rest of the schedule was condensed and featured fewer days off.

Was it worth it? Well, they played about as well as they have all year while beating the Detroit Pistons 126-108 on Thursday at Accor Arena.

Zach LaVine led the way with 30 points and, after the game, someone pointed out he has a French last name.

"I think my great grandfather was French," LaVine said. "I think it meant something and maybe the air up here was good for me. I'm definitely coming back to Paris again, maybe for a wine trip."

DeMar DeRozan returned to action after missing three games with a right quad strain and scored 26. Center Nikola Vucevic addressed the crowd in French before tip-off, then produced 16 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists.

"Tonight was one of those games I'm going to look back years down the line and realize how great of a moment this was," DeRozan said. "It definitely was a beautiful atmosphere and was a privilege being part of this whole thing."

The day featured plenty of NBA celebrities. Former Bull Joakim Noah was on hand, along with Magic Johnson, commissioner Adam Silver, former Spurs point guard Tony Parker and a couple of Bulls-Pistons alums, Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton.

Bulls players brought family members on the trip and got to spend extended time with each other, from exploring the city to the requisite team photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.

"Being out here has been great, the whole experience," LaVine added. "My family's been here, we've been doing things as a group. The culture, the fans, the environment, it was electric. And obviously capping it off with a win was great."

Now the question is, can the Bulls keep this going when they get back home and face a flurry of games? They've now gone 10-6 since the ugly loss in Minnesota on Dec. 18, when they gave up 150 points to the Timberwolves.

Thursday's game featured an opponent with the worst record in the East, but the Bulls did what they're supposed to, with the Big Three working together, plus they got contributions from supporting cast members like Ayo Dosunmu (13 points) and Derrick Jones Jr. (12).

Coach Billy Donovan talked about one of the keys to the Bulls playing well is to constantly compete and not let missed shots or other mistakes create lulls in the effort.

"It's almost a reverse way of looking at it," Donovan said. "'I'm letting the team down because I turned the ball over, I'm letting the team down because I missed a shot, I'm letting the team down because I blew a defensive assignment.'

"No, you're letting the team down when it parlays into four or five possessions after that. You've got to pick yourself off the mat. It's a game that's imperfect and mistakes are going to happen. But it's how you collectively respond to overcome what's in front of you."

So that's the challenge for the Bulls. When memories of the baguettes and burgundy are gone, can they pull together when things are going badly on the court?

There's plenty of time to get it right, but the Bulls need to remember their Paris progress and not slide into their bad habits from earlier this season.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Detroit Pistons' Killian Hayes, left, guard Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine during the NBA basketball game between Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons at the Accor Arena in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Associated Press
Detroit Pistons' Saddiq Bey, right, guards Chicago Bulls DeMar DeRozan during the NBA basketball game between Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons at the Accor Arena in Paris, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Associated Press
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