Staying power: Bucks use head start to run over Pistons, 114-93
The defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks don’t need any help in getting out to a big lead or getting their offense jump-started.
The Pistons got off to a sluggish start and the Bucks raced to a 14-0 lead in the first three-plus minutes, but the game wasn’t over. The lead ballooned to as many as 17 points, but the Pistons got the margin down to three in the second quarter.
They just didn’t have enough of an arsenal to stay with the Bucks the rest of the way.
"Our response was big time for a group of young guys to come out against the defending champions,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Our guys responded in the right way and we defended the right way.”
Milwaukee coasted in the fourth quarter and notched a 114-93 victory on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum.
Trey Lyles had a season-high 19 points and added seven rebounds, Jerami Grant added 13 points and four rebounds and Saddiq Bey 13 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons (4-14), who lost their fourth straight game.
The Pistons continue their five-game road trip on Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Bucks (11-8) started 4-of-5 from the field, with a dunk by Jrue Holiday (22 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and a free throw and putback by Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and a dunk and 3-pointer from Bobby Portis (28 points and 10 rebounds).
Antetokounmpo had another dunk and two more free throws before the Pistons got their first basket, a lay-in from Luka Garza at the 8:41 mark, for a 14-2 margin. Portis added a tip-in and Antetokounmpo a lay-in for a 16-point lead.
The Pistons had a 7-1 run to get within 10, but the Bucks followed with a 7-0 run, with a 3-pointer from Pat Connaughton (11 points and seven rebounds), a tip-in by Antetokounmpo and a jumper from Holiday for their largest lead, 26-90, at the 4:42 mark.
With another 9-2 run, the Pistons got back within 10, including a tip-in by Lyles and a jumper and two free throws from Grant. Saben Lee, who got some extended time as the backup point guard, had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. His 3-pointer cut it to 30-20, and Lyles finished the quarter with a three-point play and a 3-pointer, to finish a 17-6 run, but the Bucks led, 32-26, entering the second quarter.
Portis had eight straight Milwaukee points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to start the second quarter, but the Pistons kept chipping away. Frank Jackson scored on a cut and Lyles followed with a 3-pointer. After a Portis jumper, Bey answered with a jumper and Portis hit one of his six 3-pointers.
The Bucks were without center Brook Lopez, who is injured, but Portis was an ample replacement. Alongside Antetokounmpo and Middleton, Portis’ 3-point shooting was just another weapon that the Bucks had on offense at their disposal.
"Bobby (Portis) has been shooting the 3 very well,” Casey said. “You have to give up something; you're not going to take away everything.”
Lyles continued the back-and-forth with a three-point play to get within 40-36 at the 9:06 mark, but the Bucks kept rolling, with a drive by Holiday.
After a 3-pointer by Cade Cunningham (nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists), the Pistons were within 46-43 at the 5:51 mark, but the Bucks had another offensive onslaught, with a three-point play by Holiday and a 3-pointer by Connaughton.
Lee hit his second 3-pointer of the game, but Connaughton answered with a 3-pointer, starting a 12-3 run that pushed the lead to 15. Cunningham hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer for a 64-52 halftime deficit.
In the third quarter, the Pistons had a 9-0 run and got back within 71-65 at the 6:43 mark, but Antetokounmpo answered with a pair of free throws and a lay-in. Lee answered with a putback, but Holiday helped stretch the lead back to double digits with back-to-back 3-pointers for an 81-67 advantage.
The Bucks led, 88-74, entering the fourth quarter and the Pistons didn’t get any closer the rest of the way.