Well that was disappointing.
Two days after a thrilling win over the Heat and a day before a big home game against the Bulls, the Bucks came crashing back to earth. Or in this case: Detroit.
Having already dropped two games to the Bucks in the last month, the Pistons came out the more energetic side while the Bucks never seemed to shift out of neutral, finding few opportunities to run and struggling to execute anything in the halfcourt. Brandon Jennings did his best to carry the Bucks in the first half by making his first five shots, but Brandon Knight (26 points on 23 shots, 7 ast, 0 to) held his own early and clearly bested Jennings (20 pts, 7/19 fg, 1 ast, 3 stl, 3 to) over the final three quarters.
Then again, at least Jennings had one good quarter. That's more than you can say about his teammates, who were mostly outplayed across the board. The Bucks couldn't make shots against one of the league's worst defenses and managed a mere 10 assists on the evening, all too often looking hurried and out of control offensively. Scott Skiles was not pleased.
Just a very poor effort, one of the worst I've seen. Our execution was sloppy. Defensively we had no will. We had no will on the board. We gambled for steals.
We still had a chance to try to steal it, but even our last several possessions, there wasn't any quality in them.
The Bucks twice closed to within four in the final three minutes, but Knight responded both times: once on a P&R floater and another by driving left and finishing with his off-hand past Jennings. The Bucks then came up empty on clean three point looks by Jennings and Drew Gooden in the final minute and could only watch as free throws clinched it for Detroit.
Ersan Ilyasova. Another big night on the boards for Ersan, who grabbed 12 rebounds in 21 minutes on a night when no other Buck grabbed more than five. Sadly, that alone was sufficient for the top honors among the Bucks tonight.
Shaun Livingston. Livingston started the second half with seven quick points as the Bucks narrowed the Piston lead to five, but there was no getting over the hump for Milwaukee. Still, an efficient night for Livingston (4/6 fg, 14 pts, 4 rebs) on a night when no other Buck made better than 50% of his shots.
Tobias Harris. The rookie provided a much-needed shot in the arm late in the third, helping the Bucks claw back from a 13-point deficit with eight points and five boards in 11 minutes.
10. After five straight games of 20+ assists, the Bucks looked short on focus and lacked the polish we've come to expect of late, managing a season-low 10 assists.
25-15. The Pistons' strong second quarter was all they needed to take the lead and never look back.
7. The Pistons snapped a seven game losing streak, while the Bucks saw another chance at a four game streak go by the wayside.
Tanked. The Pistons are essentially tanking this season for a top draft pick, but they were clearly the better side against a Bucks team theoretically getting its act together.
Inverse Jennings. After carrying the Bucks in the final three quarters against the Heat, Jennings was outplayed by a rookie in the final three stanzas in Detroit and failed to score in the game's final 13 minutes. After his hot start, Jennings missed his final seven threes and made just 2/14 shots to close the game as Knight thoroughly outplayed him--just a few days after the rookie went scoreless in Milwaukee.
Looking overly concerned with his one-on-one duel, Jennings also did little to help out his teammates until the fourth quarter, managing just a single assist against three turnovers. The symbolic play of the night: Jennings blew a 2-on-1 break in the third by throwing an errant around-the-back bounce pass wide of Beno Udrih. One of those nights.
Better lucky than Gooden. Drew Gooden was abysmal: often out of control (OK, not unusual), inaccurate (1/8 fg), ineffective on the boards (4 rebs) and mostly overwhelmed by Greg Monroe (19 pts, 11 rebs). We've been a bit spoiled by Gooden's strong play since Bogut went down, but tonight offered an unfortunate reminder of how harmful Gooden can be when he doesn't find a way to contribute offensively.
Bulls on tap. The giant-slaying Bucks seemed to be looking past the Pistons to the Bulls on Saturday, so they won't have any excuses against Derrick Rose and company. Hopefully that means a strong effort, though the problem with a likely-to-be-sold-out Saturday night tilt with the Bulls is that you do actually have to play the Bulls.
Ice Ice Baby. Vanilla Ice played at halftime.