PARIS – The Chicago Bulls stretched their dominance of the Detroit Pistons to two continents on Thursday as they never trailed in a 126-108 victory in Paris.
It was the first National Basketball Association (NBA) game in Europe since 2020.
Zach LaVine poured in 30 points as the Bulls defeated their Central Division rivals for the 13th consecutive time. “Maybe the air up here was good for me,” said the forward, who had said that his great grandfather was French.
DeMar DeRozan racked up 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists as seven Bulls scored in double figures.
Nikola Vucevic had 16 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, Ayo Dosunmu contributed 13 points, Derrick Jones Jr supplied 12 and Coby White and Patrick Williams added 10 apiece for Chicago.
In their last meeting, LaVine fired in 43 points during a 132-118 Bulls home win over Detroit on Dec 30.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 25 points. Hamidou Diallo tossed in 17 points, while Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey had 16 points apiece. Jalen Duren added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Killian Hayes, who grew up in France and who received a thunderous ovation when the starters were introduced, was limited to four points on two-for-13 shooting.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said ahead of tip-off it is likely another game will be in Paris in 2024, the third of its kind after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets three years ago.
Previously, the Bulls played two pre-season contests in Paris in 1997. The Pistons were playing in France for the first time.
“I don’t want to quite compare this to the All-Star,” he said. “But it’s the closest thing to a European All-Star Game that we have.”
The Bulls finished the first half with a 65-56 lead and opened the second with a 15-6 spurt to increase the lead to 80-62.
The Pistons cut the deficit to nine points but Chicago nudged the advantage to 14, 93-79, entering the fourth.
Isaiah Livers made a three-pointer with 7min 36sec left to cut the Bulls’ lead to single digits and soon netted another to make it an eight-point game at 105-97.
But Jones answered with a dunk and the Pistons were unable to hold off the Bulls.
The game capped off several days of both teams taking part in basketball clinics, as well as touristy events like visiting Paris’ famed Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees, while some members also went to Roland Garros – the site of tennis’ French Open.
There were also upscale dinners in the French capital and even a private show for the Pistons at the Paris Opera House.
“It is special because we’re representing not only Detroit, but the NBA,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “And we’re trying to put the brand in a good place — in a place where basketball is taking off.”