Sunday’s early tipoff against the Pistons fits neatly into Jim Boylen’s recent habit of finding meaning and motivation — even if it’s quirky — for seemingly meaningless regular-season games.
The 11 a.m. Central tipoff in Detroit finishes a home-and-away series against the Pistons. The Bulls completed the same scheduling rarity last Sunday against the Hawks, losing at home after winning a four-overtime classic in Atlanta.
Boylen has talked about how facing the same opponent in consecutive games serves as experience for preparing for the same opponent — just like in the playoffs.
Before the Bulls defeated the 76ers at home on a nationally televised broadcast, Boylen told his team that appearing on just three such games all season should be viewed as motivation. Then on Friday, Boylen cited the Bulls’ poor Central Division record before facing the Pistons.
Hey, whatever it takes.
Sunday’s game also means another matchup against Blake Griffin, who torched the Bulls on Friday, scoring 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s still one of the top guys in this league, so his impact on the game and for Detroit is big-time for them,” Otto Porter Jr. said.
Boylen began Friday’s fourth quarter with the lineup of Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaquille Harrison, Wayne Selden Jr., Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Cristiano Felicio. The Pistons trimmed an 11-point deficit to three in just more than 3 minutes.
“I’m trying to develop a bench,” Boylen said. “I’m trying to trust some guys. I’m trying to get some guys to step up and contribute. I don’t sub and say, ‘We’re not going to play well now.’ I don’t sub and say, ‘You’re a second unit guy. I expect us to lose the lead.’ I say, ‘I’m playing you and I expect you to play like everybody else and compete like everybody else and own it like everybody else and grow like everybody else.’ ”
Boylen also said he played lineups without at least one of Porter, Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen for only 7 minutes total.
“The game shifted in the third when the starters were in,” Boylen said. “To the starters’ credit, they took ownership of that. Otto spoke up about it in front of the team, which is great. Those are those learning moments.”
LaVine didn’t participate in Saturday’s non-contact practice because of patellar tendinitis in his right knee, but Boylen said he’s probable for Sunday. … The Lakers, who make their lone United Center visit Tuesday, announced Brandon Ingram is likely out for the season after testing revealed the life-threatening condition of a deep venous thrombosis in his right arm. That’s essentially a blood clot deep in Ingram’s body. The Lakers also shut down point guard Lonzo Ball, who has been out since Jan. 19 because of a sprained left ankle.