'Miserable night': Pistons run over by Bucks

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Bucks' Greg Monroe drives to the basket against Pistons' Jon Leuer, left, and Boban Marjanovic during the second half.

Milwaukee — This time, there was no encore.

After overcoming a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit — the largest in franchise history since the move to Detroit in 1957 — on Sunday, they dug into a deep hole in the first half on Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

And they didn’t hit shots like they did in their rare comeback.

The offense struggled and the defense couldn’t handle the Bucks' stars, as the Pistons fell, 102-89, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The loss ends the Pistons’ surge of five wins in the last seven games.

BOX SCORE: Bucks 102, Pistons 89

Marcus Morris had 26 points, Andre Drummond had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Jon Leuer had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons (26-30), who have one game remaining — Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks at The Palace — before the All-Star break.

“Our offense was pathetic. Their defense was good, but we knew how they would play and what was open,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We didn’t have any focus on getting it there. (We had) 17 turnovers. It was just a miserable night all around.”

The second quarter was the undoing for the Pistons, as they were outscored, 28-15, and shot just 5 of 14 from the field. The Pistons compounded the shooting woes with eight turnovers in the period, which led to 11 points.

Defensively, they didn’t have an answer for former Pistons big man Greg Monroe, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, and Michael Beasley (23 points), who took over the starting role for the injured Jabari Parker, who is out for the rest of the season.

Monroe and Beasley combined for 33 first-half points for the Bucks (24-30), including a combined 19 in the second quarter.

“They got it going early on. They made some tough shots, but at the same time, we got broken down where Greg Monroe was able to get some inside touches and get some easy baskets around the rim,” forward Tobias Harris said. “So, it was tough because those guys got it going and overall, we didn’t break them down defensively.”

Near the end of the first period, the Pistons led, 19-17, but Milwaukee surged with the final six points, including a lay-in by Monroe, a basket by Malcolm Brogdon and a jumper by Khris Middleton (11 points) for a 23-19 lead.

Ish Smith had a pair of free throws and Stanley Johnson a jumper to pull the Pistons within one, but Monroe got the hot hand, hitting seven straight points on a lay-in, a three-point play and a dunk off a pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had just eight points and six assists.

That started a 16-3 spurt, punctuated by a 3-pointer by Jason Terry, as the lead ballooned to 39-25. Monroe and Beasley added baskets to finish the run and the Pistons didn’t get within double digits the rest of the way.

“Beasley is just a great scorer; they’re both scorers,” Van Gundy said. “Beasley hit some tough pull-up fadeaway stuff where he had a hand up and stuff like that and he made shots.

“We just let (Monroe) get to his strengths all night. We had three different guys on him and none of them defended him well at all.”

After Monroe, who was 12-for-15 from the field, hit two more baskets, the Pistons answered with a putback by Drummond and a jumper by Leuer, but Beasley tacked on two more baskets before half, along with two shots by Tony Snell (16 points) and Thon Maker for a 51-34 halftime advantage.

The Pistons shot just 37 percent in the first half — and their 3-point-shooting struggles continued, as they went 1 of 8 from behind the arc in the first half. Smith, who was the spark plug in Sunday’s win, mustered just three points and three assists in 17 minutes.

From the start, the Pistons seemed to lack energy, playing on their 10th back-to-back of the season. Their record fell to 2-8 on the second of consecutive games.

After the Bucks’ lead reached 56-34 in the first minute of the third quarter, the Pistons answered with a 9-0 run — with a jumper by Leuer, a lay-in by Reggie Jackson (nine points, nine assists), a pair of free throws by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 3-pointer by Morris — to trim the lead to 13, but Antetokounmpo answered with four straight points to quell the rally.

“It’s a team effort. Giannis didn’t play his best game offensively, but he found other ways to get involved — defensively, rebounding, setting guys up and finding open guys,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s what All-Stars do; that’s what the best player on a team does.”

Morris scored 22 in the second half, including 15 in the final period. He had a jumper to open the period and a 3-pointer and split a pair of free throws, during a 6-0 run, with a basket by Harris.

But the defense was porous, allowing the Bucks to shoot 51 percent, with 26 assists on 40 field goals.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard