AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -The Chicago Bulls needed a win Sunday to boost their chances of a playoff spot.
They found the perfect opponent.
Flip Murray scored 23 points, Derrick Rose added 19 points and nine assists, and the Bulls beat the hapless Detroit Pistons 110-103.
Chicago trails Toronto by a half-game for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
``We know we need to play some good basketball right now,' Rose said. ``It's here now. We just have to keep it going, focus and play defense.'
The Pistons have lost eight straight and 15 of 17. The victory gave the Bulls, who are seven games under .500 against the rest of the NBA, their first season sweep of Detroit since the Michael Jordan-led team that won 72 games in 1995-96. They have now beaten the Pistons seven straight times.
``It's a privilege to play this game, and it is an honor to coach it, and you need to take advantage of every game you have,' Pistons coach John Kuester said. ``I thought we would have a little more pep tonight.'
Brad Miller added 17 points for Chicago, while Hakim Warrick scored 14 off the bench.
``That's our team. We share the ball and we don't know who the hot guy is going to be each night,' Miller said. ``We can't afford to lose any more games, especially with playing New Jersey last night and Detroit tonight. All we can do now is win.'
Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 29 points, while Rodney Stuckey overcame a twisted ankle to add 20. Hamilton also twisted his ankle late in the game, and Kuester was unsure of their status for Wednesday's game against Miami.
``I think I'll be OK - it is sore, but I'll get it taken care of tomorrow,' Stuckey said. ``We just aren't getting the job done right now. We're late on a lot of defensive plays.'
Detroit scored the game's first five points, but that was the highlight of the night for the free-falling Pistons. The Bulls put together a 31-11 run to take a 62-44 halftime lead.
``We just don't have a very big margin of error, so we can't dig ourselves a hole like we did in the second quarter,' Kuester said.
A 32-point third quarter got the Pistons back within single digits, but they couldn't hit enough shots in the fourth period to pose a serious threat.
``I thought we got a little stagnant and a little cautious in the second half, but we got some stops when we needed them,' Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. ``We got great production from Hakim and Flip, Derrick attacked the basket and Brad was effective. It was a great team effort.'
NOTES: Detroit is 2-14 against the Central Division, with both wins coming against Milwaukee. Besides being swept by the Bulls for the first time in 14 years, they were swept by Indiana for the first time in franchise history. ... Murray, a former Piston, outscored former Bull Ben Gordon 23-3. Murray is making approximately one-sixth of Gordon's salary this season. ... Hamilton and Kuester both picked up technicals for arguing calls. ... James Johnson returned for Chicago after missing the last game with a strained foot.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved