Antetokounmpo schools Pistons in a 125-115 Bucks' romp
Early in the game, the Pistons didn’t have an answer for two-time defending league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Or in the middle of the game. Or late in the game.
Throughout the game, Antetokounmpo had his way with the Pistons on Monday night, fueling the Milwaukee Bucks to a workmanlike victory over the Pistons, 125-115, at Fiserv Forum.
Antetokounmpo finished with 43 points, on an efficient 17-of-24 shooting from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. He had his way in the paint, with four of his seven misses coming on 3-point attempts.
The Pistons had bigger concerns, as rookie Killian Hayes left the game in the third quarter because of a hip injury, a non-contact issue that occurred while he was contesting a fast break. The extent of the injury is unclear, as is a potential return for Hayes.
"He's going to have an MRI tomorrow and we'll find out more," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "(The medical team) thought it was a hip flexor but they weren't sure, so they're going to see."
Jerami Grant continued his early-season scoring binge, with 24 points, four rebounds and three blocks, and Derrick Rose added 24 points and eight assists off the bench for the Pistons (1-6).
They just didn’t have an answer for Antetokounmpo, who had 30 points in the first half and dominated in the paint, getting Grant in early foul trouble, with two fouls in the first two minutes.
"It's a learning experience for our guys. I thought we competed hard, we got ourselves back in position but again, it's the little things like free throw-line box-outs," Casey said. "You can't take it in there and flip it up; you've got to take it in strong with conviction against the team like this length. There were a lot of good things but too many negatives to beat a team like this.
"Our margin for error playing against a team like this is very small."
The Pistons didn’t let the Bucks (4-3) run away with it, using a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to trim the lead to 97-86, but the Bucks answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Bryn Forbes and Jrue Holiday. Rose ended the run with a 3-pointer but Antetokounmpo followed with a lay-in.
The Pistons closed to within eight points on three straight 3-pointers, by Rose, Grant and Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points), to make it 113-105 at the 5:03 mark, but the Bucks pulled away in the final minutes, with a 5-0 run, including a putback by Antetokounmpo, a lay-in by Brook Lopez and a free throw by Khris Middleton (19 points).