CHICAGO • The Detroit Pistons enhanced their hopes of reaching the National Basketball Association play-offs while dealing a blow to Chicago's with a 94-90 win over the Bulls on Saturday.
The Pistons stayed a half-game ahead of the Indiana Pacers (40-36), who defeated the Philadelphia 76ers to keep hold of the final play-off spot in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago, playing without starters Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, trail Indiana by two games and the Pistons by 2½ games.
"You like being ahead, but until we're in, no, I'm not the least bit comfortable," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.
"The way this season has gone, it's up and down. And look who we have to play now."
Detroit have six games left, including two games against the Miami Heat and one against the Cleveland Cavaliers, both play-off-bound teams.
The Pistons showed their ability to battle at the United Centre.
After shooting five of 12 from the free-throw line in the first half, they hit 15 of 22 in the final two quarters and sank their final eight down the stretch.
"We were able to seal it," said Reggie Jackson, who led the Pistons with 22 points and hit two clutch free throws with 20.4 seconds left.
"We went up to the line and trusted ourselves. It was a hard-fought game."
Tobias Harris also had a big night for Detroit, scoring 21 points and hitting a put-back with 49.5sec left in the fourth to give the Pistons an 88-83 lead.
In fact, Detroit (41-36) got double figures from all five starters. Marcus Morris had 16 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 while Andre Drummond had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls and all scorers with 28 points and recorded the first triple-double of his career, finishing with career-highs in rebounds (17) and assists (12).
It just was not enough and now Chicago (38-38) will play in Milwaukee this morning (Singapore time) to complete their 17th and final back-to-back set of games.
"I just felt like I could have done more," Butler said. "I could have made some more shots or played better defence. There's always room for improvement. All I want to do is win. I didn't do my job. We, as a whole, didn't do our job. We have to have that one (against the Bucks)."