Pistons coach Monty Williams was kidding around when asked what impressed him about Bulls forward Torrey Craig during their time together in Phoenix last season.
“Nothing at all,” Williams said. “I’m so glad I’m away from him.”
But when Williams got serious, he provided some insight into how the Pistons play today.
Detroit is in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The Pistons’ crashing-the-glass philosophy can partially be attributed to Craig.
“He’s one of the guys that convinced me about the offensive rebounding from the wing spot,” Williams said.
“He was such a good crasher, and as he got more consistent with shooting the ball, he just became a guy that I fell in love with.”
Williams spoke glowingly about Craig’s work ethic, versatility and attitude — qualities that made him attractive to the Bulls.
“He’s just an everyday guy and has a great attitude,” Williams said. “You could coach him; you could talk to him about other stuff outside of basketball. He just became one of my favorite players.
“You can play him at any wing spot, and you can play a number of defenses with him, whether it’s switching, zone or man coverage.”
Guard Alex Caruso, who was a game-time decision because of a toe injury he suffered at practice, was finally ruled out against Detroit. He hadn’t done much activity before the game.
“He just wanted to see how he felt out there,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He didn’t do anything yesterday in practice, and we didn’t have shootaround because we did the preparation yesterday.”
Guard Dalen Terry only played nine minutes for the Windy City Bulls on Saturday and was inactive against the Pistons. Donovan didn’t have much to add other than it was because of left patellar tendinitis.
Pistons center Jalen Duren — who dominated the Bulls with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the teams’ first meeting — was out with a sore right ankle. The Pistons, who outrebounded the Bulls 53-33 in that first matchup, won the battle on the boards again Sunday with a 49-40 advantage
Rebounding has been an issue for the Bulls all season.
They’re 28th in rebounding percentage, last in defensive rebounds (29.8) and 14th in offensive rebounds (11.1). It also doesn’t help that some of their best lineups include playing Caruso — a 6-5 guard — at power forward.
“I think it needs to be a lot better,” Donovan said. “We’ve gotten hurt quite honestly in some rotational stuff where [Nikola Vucevic] has had to come or [Andre Drummond] had to come to protect the rim, and then we need kind of a sink and fill in the backside.
“When three-pointers go up, we’ve got to get out of the habit of running toward the basket because most of those shots are going to be kicked out a little bit higher, and those little ones that go over your head are the ones they get extra possessions on.”
The Pistons attack the glass with their centers and guards, so each Bull had to be attentive once a shot went up.
Despite Duren’s absence, the Pistons still had guard Ausar Thompson, forward Marvin Bagley III and center James Wiseman for size.
“They’re an elite rebounding team,’’ Donovan said.
‘‘And they’ll play big, and they’re athletic, and they’re long. We have to be able to match that physicality.”