Observations: Pistons-Bucks take a knee, Rose out with injury, Ellington still helping

Detroit News

Rod Beard
| The Detroit News

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For the second time in three nights, the Pistons had their hands full with the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have won eight straight meetings in the regular season — and continued the thrashing Wednesday, pushing the lead to over 30 points in the third quarter.

On a day that the nation won’t forget because of the political unrest, the Pistons and Bucks made a statement at the start of the game, but the basketball wasn’t pretty, as the Pistons fell to 1-7 after the 130-115 loss at Fiserv Forum.

Here are some takeaways from the Pistons’ loss:

Taking a knee

In the wake of the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon and other events this week, the Pistons and Bucks players staged their own symbol of solidarity, taking a knee on each team’s first possession, as a show of unity.

That included the coaches taking a knee on the sideline as well. The result was a pair of 8-second violations, which the Bucks did after the opening tip, and the Pistons followed suit, with Blake Griffin doing the same, taking a turnover to send the message.

The Bucks also had been embroiled in the decision this week not to charge the officers in the Jacob Blake incident. It was a fitting tribute to a heart-wrenching day in the nation’s capital, the likes of which the nation hasn’t seen.

Coach Dwane Casey said he and Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer worked out something that would be symbolic and impactful.

“Bud and I talked about it before the game and the players talked about it and they decided they would have that as a demonstration for his family,” Casey said. “I thought it was appropriate. They wanted to show a sign of unity and support for the family.”

Guarding Giannis

The Pistons didn’t do much better Wednesday in trying to find a way to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time defending MVP had 43 points in Monday’s first game of the mini-series and followed up with 18 points in the first half on Wednesday.

Casey pointed out that the Pistons didn’t wall off the paint and stop Antetokounmpo from driving the lane. He did much of the same in the rematch, and added a 3-pointer in the first half, but pulling back on some of the offense because his teammates, including Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez, were hitting shots and taking on some of the scoring load.

Rose goes out

Derrick Rose, who had 10 points in 11 minutes, sustained a right knee contusion in the second quarter and went to the locker room just before halftime. He was ruled out for the second half.

There wasn’t any apparent contact that looked to have caused the injury. In the final few plays before halftime, Rose wasn’t laboring to move around on the knee. It’s another blow to the Pistons’ backcourt, which already is without Killian Hayes, who has a torn labrum in his right hip and will be sidelined for an undisclosed period.

Without either of their top two point guards, the Pistons looked to other options on their bench to fill some of the minutes, with the game getting out of hand.


Pistons rookie guard Saben Lee on his NBA debut

The Pistons gave rookie second-round draft pick Saben Lee an opportunity for his first NBA minutes on Wednesday.

The Detroit News

Saben Lee minutes

After the injuries and the lopsided score, the Pistons gave rookie second-round draft pick Saben Lee an opportunity for his first NBA minutes. Lee made a quick impact, getting a steal and driving the lane, drawing a foul. He made one of the two free throws, for his first NBA points.

Lee also drew a charge on Khris Middleton on the defensive end, showing his contributions on both ends of the court. In the fourth quarter, Lee got his first field goal, on a goaltending call. It’s weird, but it counts.

He may be pressed into some more significant playing time if the Rose injury is serious. The Pistons also have Frank Jackson, who’s on a two-way contract, as an option, but it’s not clear how familiar he is with the playbook and how ready he is to play. It may not matter.

Ellington still helping

Wayne Ellington, in his second straight start, still is a valuable contributor, chipping in 12 points, with a pair of 3-pointers and some nice drives to the basket.

Ellington is more known for his shooting from beyond the arc, but when he’s left alone, he still can hurt teams with his veteran savvy. Casey used Ellington as a starter to help stretch the Bucks’ defense.

With Josh Jackson missing a second game because of an ankle sprain, Ellington provides good depth at shooting guard.


Twitter: @detnewsrodbeard


Pistons’ Saddiq Bey on career-high 20 points

Pistons forward Saddiq Bey talks about his career-high 20 points against the Bucks in 130-115 loss in Milwaukee.

The Detroit News

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