In the first four minutes of the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds — three on the offensive end.
From the opening tip, the Detroit Pistons struggled to match the Milwaukee Bucks’ size. And Antetokounmpo was clearly on a mission.
After nearly allowing the Pistons to come back from a 16-point deficit on Monday, the Bucks weren’t in the mood to toy around on Wednesday. They defeated the Pistons in Milwaukee, 116-91, behind a 32-point, 12-rebound, five-steal effort from Antetokounmpo. Jrue Holiday, who buried the Pistons with a late 3 on Monday, also had a strong night with 26 points.
Cade Cunningham, who entered Wednesday averaging 27.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists in his last four games, struggled against Milwaukee’s aggressive, hounding defense and finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists on 5-for-13 shooting. Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 22 points, and Isaiah Stewart had a double-double for the third night in a row with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
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The Bucks dominated Detroit in the second half, shooting 53.7% overall and 8-for-17 from 3 after making just 2 of 21 3-point attempts (9.5%) in the first half. The Pistons entered halftime trailing by nine. The deficit ballooned to as many as 33 points in the fourth quarter, as Detroit’s defensive issues finally caught up to them and the Bucks began making shots they should’ve hit in the first half.
Pistons play sloppy, struggle against Milwaukee’s size
A 3-pointer from Isaiah Stewart cut Detroit’s deficit to six with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter. Holiday hit a 3 as the clock expired to extend Milwaukee’s lead to 56-47 at halftime. The score was closer than one might expect from watching the game, as the Pistons had been thoroughly outplayed.
At halftime, the Bucks had an 12-1 offensive rebounding advantage, and 22-2 lead in second chance points. They had also scored 16 points off of 13 Pistons turnovers. Detroit certainly missed Jalen Duren, who missed his second consecutive game with a left ankle sprain, and Marvin Bagley III, who is still recovering from an MCL sprain.
Stewart had a strong individual effort, but the Pistons as a whole simply lacked the size and effort needed to compete with Milwaukee. Combine that with the Bucks’ 12 first-half steals and Cunningham’s off night, and the Pistons were lucky to not be down 20 after two quarters.
The Bucks accordingly ran away with the game once they began hitting shots. And they made a point to shut down Cunningham, who was often met with multiple defenders on drives and had more difficulty getting to his midrange jumper, a main thrust behind his four-game offensive surge. Milwaukee is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, with Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez prowling the paint and Holiday, Jevon Carter and other skilled wing defenders harassing opposing players along the perimeter. Cunningham overcame it on Monday, but Milwaukee adjusted.
No one else on Detroit’s roster was able to pick up the offensive slack. Bogdanovic scored all 14 of his points in the first half, going 0-for-5 in the second half. Bey, who shot 5-for-12 overall but 9-for-10 at the free-throw line, was the Pistons’ only player to crack the 20-point threshold. Ivey struggled to find a rhythm, finishing with seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.
The Pistons committed a season-high 21 turnovers and grabbed a season-low 35 rebounds, including a measly two on the offensive end after grabbing at least 10 in each of their previous eight games. Their 91 points are also a season-low.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.