Milwaukee — After trailing by as many as 16 points at the end of the third quarter, the Pistons showed resilience and battled back against the undefeated Milwaukee Bucks in a wire-to-wire game on Monday night.
Cade Cunningham, who led his team with 27 points, had two prime looks towards the end of regulation but couldn’t knock down his patented mid-range shot, nor a 3-pointer that would’ve tied the game at 108.
Instead, the Bucks were the recipients of end-of-the-game free throws and ultimately defeated the Pistons 110-108 in a thriller inside the Fiserv Forum, the first of two games against Detroit this week.
The Pistons held the tall task of facing the team with the best record in the NBA on Monday, one night after they pulled an upset over the Golden State Warriors. The battle-tested Bucks had yet to be defeated after six games into the season, and their unbeaten claim was challenged late in the fourth quarter.
Isaiah Stewart tied the game at 105 with 57 seconds left after a layup, which set the stage for the biggest shot of the night. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday nailed a stepback 3-pointer over Jaden Ivey to five Milwaukee the lead once and for all.
The loss drops the Pistons to 2-6, and 1-14 overall to the Bucks over the last four seasons (since 2018-19).
Milwaukee’s seven-game win streak continued due to stellar play from their “Big 3” of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Lopez.
Antetokounmpo, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier that day, continued his dominance on both sides of the ball and finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. His turnaround jumper got the Bucks going early on and scored 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter. And Lopez made the most of his height advantage and did most of his damage inside the paint with 22 points and eight rebounds.
The Pistons pulled within one point of the Bucks at the start of the third quarter, but entered an offensive drought as they had six consecutive trips down the floor without scoring. During this time, the Bucks went on a 9-0 run and reclaimed a 10-point lead. Detroit didn’t back down in the midst of their struggles to score the basketball. Ivey, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, kept the Pistons afloat in the end of the third quarter.
Cunningham finished with a team-high 27 points, five rebounds and six assists. He scored 19 points in the first half by showing his usual skillset to connect on mid-range jumpers, while mixing in his 3-point shot. He made his first three triples of the night and finished shooting at a 3-of-7 clip.
The Pistons defended Antetokounmpo surprisingly well. The former MVP was limited to just one four points in the first quarter. However, he scored seven consecutive points.
The Pistons were without the services of Jalen Duren, who sprained his ankle in Sunday’s game against the Warriors. In his absence, veteran center Nerlens Noel made his long-awaited season debut.
In the first minute of the game, both Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey picked up their first foul. Cunningham bumped Giannis off the ball while trying to set a screen, while Ivey committed his first foul going for a block attempt against Grayson Allen. Isaiah Stewart had an offensive foul call midway through the first quarter. Bogdanovic
Checked in less than four minutes into the first quarter. On his first defensive possession, he blocked a layup attempt by Serge Ibaka. He received high fives from his teammates right after the play. He attempted a mid-range jumper, but the ball fell flat. He grabbed an offensive rebound that turned into a split pair of free throws for Haidou Diallo. He played five minutes in his first stint on the floor.
Noel returned with 2 minutes and 47 seconds left in the second quarter, guarding Anteteokounmpo. He fronted him on one possession and was able to get in the way of a pass for his first steal of the season.