Detroit − Another poor defensive effort in the first half resulted in another disappointing loss for the Pistons.
Last week it was against the Chicago Bulls in Paris. This time it was against the Milwaukee Bucks inside Little Caesars Arena on a night the team honored the life and legacy of the late Bob Lanier, who played for both franchises.
The game was already unfortunate for the Pistons, who were shorthanded without Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart with shoulder injuries. To make matters worse, the Bucks had a full roster and welcomed back their two All-Stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Antetokounmpo dominated with a double-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists to lead the Bucks to a 150-130 victory over the Pistons.
It was uglier than the final score listed and the loss marked the third time this season the Bucks have beaten the Pistons after previous wins at home in Milwaukee on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.
The loss also renders the Pistons winless against Central Division opponents with an 0-8 record. The Pistons are also 0-11 against the Atlantic Division and 4-22 against the Eastern Conference overall.
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The Bucks took a 28-8 lead five minutes into the first quarter, which included conversions on 11 of their first 12 shots. They led up to 33 points and remained in control the entire game despite an offensive push from veteran Pistons Bojan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 33 points, including 20 in the third quarter. He was one of the only consistent scoring options available to Detroit as he was able to create his own scoring opportunities. He entered one of his signature areas on the offensive side in the third quarter as he drained five straight 3-pointers.
Jalen Duren added a career-high 23 points and 14 rebounds. Saddiq Bey had 18 points. Hamidou Diallo scored 11 points off the bench.
Here are some other takeaways from the Pistons’ loss on Monday:
Giannis returns from injury: There have been several instances this season where a team’s star player has rested or returned from injury against the Pistons. The latter was the case on Monday as Giannis Antetokounmpo was available for the first time in the Bucks’ last five games. There was no rust either. The two-time MVP was in playoff form. Against the shorthanded Pistons, he led the charge early. He drew two fouls on Isaiah Livers three minutes into the game. Antetokounmpo scored seven of Milwaukee’s first 15 points in the first three minutes and had 20 points in the first quarter alone. That was all Milwaukee needed to take a 49-24 second quarter lead, earning them pockets of rest for most of the game. Antetokounmpo also went to the free throw line at will, finishing 11 of 17 from the boards.
Defensive breakdowns: There was a plethora of defensive lapses from the Pistons, especially in the first half. Most of these errors could simply be attributed to their top defenders (Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart) not being available, but much of it was purely based on the lack of effort on that side of the pitch. The Bucks finished with 12 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points, meaning they scored on the majority of those extra opportunities. The Pistons are at their best when they’re able to get saves to create easier scoring opportunities in transition. At halftime, the Bucks scored 83 points, which marked a season high for most points allowed by Detroit since giving up 72 first-half points to the New York Knicks on Oct. 21. . Fans inside the arena weren’t impressed either. . A fan was shown on the jumbotron sleeping in the third quarter. Most left during the fourth trimester.
No Killian: Hayes was a game-time decision due to a shoulder injury he suffered in Paris against the Bulls, but was ruled out shortly before the tip. Without their starting point guard, the Pistons struggled to find consistency in their offense. The impact was also felt on the defensive end as Jrue Holiday set their defense apart with his scoring and play. Holiday, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week earlier in the day, finished with 14 points and seven assists. Ivey started at point guard alongside Livers, Saddiq Bey, Bogdanovic and Jalen Duren – the Pistons’ 18th different starting lineup this season. The rookie guard facilitated the ball well, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, 11 assists but also committed four turnovers.
Evening tribute to Bob Lanier: Monday’s game against the Bucks was dedicated to Pistons legend Bob Lanier, who died aged 73 after a short illness last May. The team warmed up in blue t-shirts with Lanier’s name and jersey number displayed on the front. The entire coaching staff wore Lanier pins, which were also given to fans in attendance. There were tributes throughout the game from former Lanier teammate and former Detroit mayor Dave Bing, Pistons greats Isiah Thomas and Rick Mahorn, as well as the team’s longtime TV announcer, George Blaha. At halftime, there was a presentation which included a brief video narrated by Blaha, and Lanier’s family was recognized at half-court. They were escorted by Pistons big names Bing, James Edwards, Lindsay Hunter and Ben Wallace.