Both the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks were coming off wins over the defending champion Miami Heat. They met Sunday night at the Palace looking to build off of that momentum. To start, the Pistons came out firing.
Tayshaun Prince started it with a dunk, then Jason Maxiell had a jam, then Greg Monroe followed with two layups, the second layup came with a foul. Brandon Knight then had a layup and Maxiell had a putback and the Pistons were ahead 13-0 before five minutes even passed by.
Prince, Monroe, and Maxiell relentlessly attacked the paint and the boards. The Pistons had a 30-23 lead after a quarter and held a 16-4 rebounding advantage.
The second quarter was more of the same as the Pistons’ super bench came in. Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva combined to knock down four 3-pointers and Andre Drummond went to work in the paint. He had a dunk and an offensive putback layup. Monroe added a layup in the final minute to push the Pistons lead to 55-45 at the half.
The Central division leading Bucks wouldn’t go down quietly. After the Pistons stretched the lead to 64-49 after Knight made a 3-pointer and Monroe had a layup, Milwaukee scoring machine Monta Ellis got Milwaukee back in it. Ellis made a 3, made a nifty pass to Ersan Ilyasova for a bucket, had a step back jumper, then finished off the third quarter with a layup at the buzzer to get the Bucks to within 78-71 after three.
To start the fourth, the Pistons tried to get some seperation. Will Bynum got a layup, then Drummond stole a pass at midcourt and went in for a dunk, and Bynum had a floater for an 84-71 lead. The Pistons lead grew to 90-80 on a Villanueva layup before things started to get interesting.
Milwaukee went on a 14-2 run. Ellis, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Ilyasova knocked down back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 92 with 1:24 left. Knight then had a turnover on an inbounds pass and it didn’t sit well with Monroe. After the turnover, Milwaukee called timeout and on the way to the sideline Monroe was barking at Knight. Then with 1:06 left, Ellis made a fadeaway for a 94-92 Bucks lead for their first lead of the game. It looked like the Pistons would blow another double digit lead at home. Then the cool-headed veteran came through.
Prince made a hook shot over his shoulder and he ended a field goal drought of 4:34 to tie it at 94. Ellis then missed for the Bucks, Maxiell grabbed a rebound and Lawrence Frank went back to the veteran. Prince drove to his left and was hacked by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The last remaining player from the 2004 Championship team went to the line and calmly knocked down two free throws.
Milwaukee went back to Ellis who missed a floater at the horn and the Pistons came away with a 96-94 victory. The Pistons have won four of their last five and have beaten two straight first place teams.
Prince led the Pistons with 20 points, Maxiell had 10 and 10 rebounds, Monroe had 14 and 10, Villanueva had 11, and Drummond had eight and seven rebounds. The Pistons were missing guard Rodney Stuckey for the second straight game. Detroit improved to 3-0 without Stuckey and are 8-22 with him. Not saying he’s the problem but it’s something to think about.