Bucks 103, Pistons 98: Recap

Try as they might to blow it at the end, the Bucks were so good and the Pistons so bad for three-and-a-half quarters that not even a late flurry of threes from Rasheed Wallace could stop the Bucks from claiming a 103-98 win at home, snapping their four game losing streak. Up four with 7.6 seconds left, Mo Williams grabbed a rebound and called a timeout the Bucks didn't have, handing the Pistons a technical free throw (made by Chauncey Billups) and a chance to tie the game. But Wallace, who had four threes in the final 2:21, missed a triple from the right wing, allowing the Bucks to escape with a very nice (albeit overly dramatic) win against one of the league's best teams.

Three Bucks

  • Desmond Mason. What's gotten into Mason the past couple weeks? While he faded into the background down the stretch, Dez was again a major source of energy with 16 points (8/11 fg), four boards and three assists. In addition to some aggressive moves to the hoop, he dropped in a handful of jumpers off the dribble; when Mason is nailing those then you've really got something going offensively. He's now averaged 14.8 ppg on 68% shooting (26/38 fg) in the past four games. He joined Mo Williams in rocking a headband tonight, but it didn't affect his recent mojo one bit.
  • Mike Redd. Redd scored a team-high 27 on just 11 shots, making seven in addition to 12/14 from the charity stripe. With 4:25 left in the first quarter, we also saw something unusual. Charlie Villanueva and Redd doubled a pick/roll and CV's deflection created a runout with Redd leading the break on the left. Defending the pick/roll well would be strange enough, but then it got really weird when Redd looked up and gave Mo Williams a bounce pass filling the right side of the lane. Williams in turn wrapped it around to CV who was fouled going up, but how many times do you see Redd pass the ball in that sort of situation? You're trying Mike, and we appreciate it.
  • Charlie Bell. Bell's night started inauspiciously, fouling Jason Maxiell for a three point play and then letting a gorgeous bullet pass from Redd go off his hands when it should have been a layup. But Bell bounced back and contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists along with zero turnovers in 24 minutes, helping the much-maligned Bucks bench outscore their Piston counterparts 27-13.

Three Numbers

  • 47-40. Early on the Pistons seemed to be getting reloads left and right, but the Bucks held tough on the boards and won the battle on the glass by seven, in addition to grabbing 15 offensive rebounds (compared to 14 for Detroit). The Bucks were among the league's top ten rebounding clubs for much of the first third of the season but have gone south in a hurry of late, now ranking in the lower half of the NBA.
  • 34. Chauncey Billups is damn good, but fortunately for the Bucks he seemed to be going it alone for much of the night. His 34 point (9/19 fg, 14/14 ft), six helper and zero turnover night was the only Piston bright spot until Wallace's late triple binge, but even so it showed how valuable he is to the Piston attack. Normally content to pick his spots offensively, Billups seemed to realize relatively early that he wasn't getting much help and kept the game from becoming a 30 point blowout. Not surprisingly, he was the only Piston starter to finish with a positive +/-.
  • 39%. The Pistons shot 51% and 58% in the teams' first two meetings, games that Detroit won by a combined 71 points. Coming off a disappointing home loss to Orlando last night, you'd expect a team like the Pistons to come in focused and ready to go, but the Bucks worked hard defensively and the Pistons never got into a rhythm, shooting just 39% from the field. While the Bucks seem to be coming to grips with their defensive shortcomings, they at least kept the Pistons a bit off balance by using occasional backcourt pressure, a mix of zone and man in the halfcourt, and throwing them different looks in the pick/roll. Rip Hamilton was especially off, scoring just 11 points on eight shots, while Wallace finished just 7/19 from the field (21 pts) despite his late show from outside.  

Three Good

  • 42 minutes of glory. Yes, at this point we know better than to assume the Bucks can win comfortably against a team like the Pistons. But after 42 minutes it seemed like the Bucks were quite possibly headed to their best win of the season. Following Charlie Bell's three pointer with 6:06 remaining they led 91-73 and things were going smoothly: Redd was on, the defense was actually making life kind of difficult for the Pistons, and Desmond Mason was draining mid-range jumpers. The Bucks outscored the Pistons in each of the first three quarters, leading by 15 at halftime and 17 after three.
  • Bouncing back. For a team that's been demolished time and again this year, the Bucks have a weird ability to get off the mat and show up the next game with a good effort. Granted, they don't always win that next game, but they don't ever seem to give up in spite of all the negativity and disappointment surrounding the team. Going into the all-star  break with four straight losses the team appeared to have bottomed out, with rumors of infighting and morale at an all-time low. But after a good effort in the loss to the Hornets they came through with an even better performance tonight against the class of the Central Division. Well done, fellas.
  • The Dobber. One of unfortunate side effects of playing so poorly is that the Bucks' jersey re-dedications haven't been getting the attendance they deserve. Tonight Bob Lanier got the much-deserved special treatment at halftime, and while it was a sparse-looking crowd tonight at the BC, at least they got to see a nice halftime ceremony AND a win.

Three Bad

  • Scraping it out. It probably is befitting of the 07/08 Bucks that so many of their wins have felt more like a relief than anything else. For a team sitting at 19-34, it really shouldn't matter if you beat a team like the Pistons by 1 or 15--any win is something to feel good about. But again the Bucks looked nervous in the waning minutes and made key mistakes down the stretch (namely that timeout-that-wasn't by Mo) to allow an opponent the chance to come back.
  • Bogut vs. the basket. Bogut recorded his fourth straight game of sub-50% shooting, making just 5/15 from the field. He's shot a Charlie Bell-esque 33% (15/46) in those four contests, all this following his breakout January. Fortunately Bogut managed to compensate by grabbing 14 boards tonight in addition to some tough interior defense. He was credited with two blocks, but his biggest block he wasn't even credited for: he appeared to get a piece of the ball on Amir Johnson's missed layup with 40 seconds left.  
  • VNuv's quiet night. Charlie V returned from his ankle injury to start his fifth game of the season, but he was relatively subdued in making just 2/7 fg for eight points and three boards in 23 minutes. Yi didn't do much more numbers wise (8 points, two boards, three dimes in 25 minutes) but his defense was a little more active and he got the minutes down the stretch.
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