The Detroit Pistons were coming off a double-digit win over the team with the best record in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks were coming off a long road trip. The two teams colided at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday night for the final time on the season.
It was a matchup that was focused on the backcourts. Detroit’s Jose Calderon and Brandon Knight against Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Jennings scored Milwaukee’s first eight points. The Pistons used a team effort to thwart the one man effort. Calderon had a layup, followed by a Kyle Singler jump shot. Knight stole the ball from Ellis and it resulted in a Calderon dime for a Singler dunk. Jennings had a turnover that was followed with another Singler layup. Jennings had another turnover and Knight whipped a pass to Calderon for a layup and a 10-5 lead.
After Milwaukee tied it at 10, Detroit went on a 9-0 run. It included five points from Calderon, including a 3, a concluded with a Greg Monroe jumper and a 19-10 lead. Calderon whipped a pass to Monroe for a layup to conclude the first quarter with Detroit leading 33-22 after one. Detroit had a 16-0 lead in fast break points and had 14 points of five Bucks turnovers.
The second quarter started with back-to-back layups by Charlie Villanueva and Will Bynum to put the Pistons up 37-25. Milwaukee got to within 37-30 on an Ellis fadeaway jumper, but Villanueva made a 3 to make it 40-30. Milwaukee kept coming however.
Beno Udrih and John Henson had buckets to make it 40-36. Bynum had a layup and then Henson answered with a dunk to make it 42-38. Villanueva had a 3 to push the Pistons lead back to 7. Mike Dunleavy answered with a 3 of his own and Jennings followed with a 3 for the Bucks to make it a 47-44 game. Dunleavy had an And-1 and Samuel Dalembert had a tip-in to tie the game at 51. All of a sudden, the Pistons 13 point lead was gone. Singler had a layup to give the Pistons a 57-56 lead at the half.
After a Monroe layup off a Calderon feed for a 3 point lead, Milwaukee took a 62-59 lead on an Ersan Ilyasova jumper, Dalembert free throws, and a Luc Richard Mbah a Moute layup. Calderon answered with a 3 for the Pistons to tie it at 62.
Milwaukee then ripped off a 10-0 run. Ilyasova started it with free throws, Jennings had a 3, Ellis had free throws, and Jennings had a layup for a 72-62 lead over Detroit. The Pistons were turning the ball over and were looking like they were gonna drop another tough one. Then their veteran point guard yelled, “Hey! Calm down! Take your time!”
Calderon and Rodney Stuckey had back-to-back 3’s. Then Calderon had a jumper to get within 76-70. Villanueva followed with a 3. Stuckey had a tough jumper over Dunleavy, then he went to the rim and got a layup to fall, then Stuckey and Bynum had four free throws and the Pistons were within 82-81 after three. Setting up a terrific finish in the 4th quarter.
Bynum started the 4th by throwing an alley-oop to Jason Maxiell to give the Pistons the lead back 83-82. Udrih put Milwaukee up 86-83. Villanueva followed with a layup and Calderon found a streaking Singler for the dunk and an 87-86 lead. Dalembert put the Bucks up 88-87, Bynum had a jumper, and Monroe had an alley-oop off Calderon’s 10th assist of the night.
Jennings then had a runner and later fouled Dalembert for an alley-oop slam for a 94-92 lead. Bynum tied it with free throws and then Jennings hit Dalembert again for an alley-oop. Pistons were missing rookie big man Andre Drummond, who’s out 4-6 weeks with a back injury, on those plays. Stuckey tied it with free throws and then Jennings hit more free throws for a 98-96 Milwaukee lead.
Then it was the Villanueva show. He made a hook shot to tie it at 98 and after a ridiculous fallaway jumper by Jennings put the Bucks up 100-98, Calderon tied it at 100 with 41.7 left. A Jennings miss was rebounded by Villanueva, his 13th board of the night, and 24 seconds later, he knocked down a humongous big time, clutch 3 for a 103-100 lead with 9.7 to play.
Jennings missed a 3 and then Stuckey was fouled and made two free throws. The Pistons won 105-100 on the road.
Calderon had 23 points and 10 assists to lead Detroit, Monroe had 14 and 13 boards, Stuckey had 19, and Villanueva had 18 and 13 rebounds against his former team. The Pistons had three players with double-doubles since 2008 when Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, and Chauncey Billups each had double-doubles.
I want to point something out. If it wasn’t for Jose Calderon calming the team down when they were down 10 in the 3rd quarter, they would’ve been blown out. Tayshaun Prince wouldn’t have done that. That’s not a knock on Tayshaun but Tayshaun just wasn’t a leader. Calderon is. Detroit is now 6.5 games back of 8th place Milwaukee with 30 games left.