After playing their best game of the season on Friday night, the Pistons had a tough task ahead, in facing the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
The added level of difficulty was playing their fourth back-to-back of the season, without their best player. Blake Griffin sat after scoring a season-best 24 points Friday. It was reminiscent of the first two games of the playoff series last season, when the Pistons played without Drummond and trailed by 27 in Game 1 and had a one-point lead in Game 2.
The Pistons stayed close, getting within single digits at halftime and after the third quarter, but they gave up two double-digit runs in the second half, en route to a 104-90 loss to the Bucks on Saturday night at Fiserv Forum.
The loss drops the Pistons to 5-11, dashing another chance at their first winning streak of the season. They play Monday against the Orlando Magic at Little Caesars Arena.
Derrick Rose had 20 points and six assists, Langston Galloway 13 points and Andre Drummond 12 points and 17 rebounds.
As was the case in the playoff series, the Pistons didn’t have an answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bucks (13-3) were ahead, 77-69, entering the fourth quarter and started with a 12-0 run to push the lead to 20. Antetokounmpo hit a 3-pointer and George Hill followed with another 3-pointer. Antetokounmpo had back-to-back baskets and Dante DiVincenzo scored on a jumper before Galloway ended the run with a 3-pointer.
Wesley Matthews (13 points) hit a 3-pointer and Sterling Brown’s lay-in gave them their largest lead, 94-72, with 5:05 left and the Bucks held on from there.
Here are some observations from the loss to the Bucks:
►The Pistons went 17-of-34 on 3-pointers on Friday night but followed with only 10-of-35 (29 percent) against the Bucks. Galloway had three of those 3-pointers and Rose and Mykhailiuk had two each, but Luke Kennard (0-of-4) couldn’t find his shot, going 3-of-11 from the field. The Pistons have been among the best 3-point-shooting teams in the league this season but the consistency from game to game will be the improvement they’ll need to contend.
►Derrick Rose continues to play well while his minutes are being managed. He played 17 minutes against the Hawks on Friday and 26 against the Bucks and was 8-of-17 from the field. His three turnovers (with six assists) continue to be a concern and he’s lamented that he’s had so many miscues, especially late in games, that have been costly in their comeback attempts. He’s looking better in longer stints and as he can play longer minutes, he’ll become a bigger asset.
►Rookie Sekou Doumbouya made his NBA debut, after being promoted from the Grand Rapids Drive. Doumbouya and Jordan Bone had been playing well in the G-League and after playing last night, made the trip to Milwaukee to help the Pistons, who were shorthanded, playing without Griffin, Tony Snell and Reggie Jackson. Bone had a couple of baskets but Doumbouya missed his only shot attempt, in the final seconds.
►Markieff Morris was solid on both ends of the court. He had 11 points and six rebounds and played good defense against Antetokounmpo. Starting in place of Griffin, Morris played 34 minutes and went 5-of-13 from the field, but made only one of his six 3-point attempts. He has the size to lock in on Antetokounmpo, much like his brother Marcus did, but without Griffin, his bigger contribution was on the offensive end.