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Bucks vs. Pistons Final Score: Bucks push the pace as Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams help Milwaukee rout the Pistons, 109-88

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Michael Carter-Williams and the Bucks made pushing the pace a priority and it paid off in the final three quarters against the Pistons.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a winless road trip that saw them blown out three times in as many games, the Milwaukee Bucks finally got their chance to see how the other side lives on Monday night.

It looked like it might be another lethargic performance for the Bucks in the first quarter, with Reggie Jackson getting wherever he wanted and Andre Drummond throwing down dunk after dunk. But the Bucks ultimately turned things around in the final three quarters and delivered their most complete performance of the season in routing the Pistons 109-88.

The Bucks simply could not contain Drummond and the Pistons early on as they went down 26-25 after one period. Drummond scored 11 points, pulled down five rebounds, and looked to be dominating the battle with his former teammate Greg Monroe, but ultimately quieted down after that (other than a highlight play in which he recorded five offensive rebounds in the second quarter), ending the night with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

With Kidd emphasizing pace before the game, the Bucks turned in their two best quarters of the season in the second and third quarter, entering the fourth quarter with a 88-62 lead. The second and third quarter featured a ton of Greg Monroe attacking Drummond and other Pistons in the post, with Monroe recording 16 of his 20 points and nine of his 13 rebounds.

Just as importantly, it also featured Michael Carter-Williams dictating the Bucks tempo. Carter-Williams didn't put up huge numbers (12 points on 10 shots, 8 assists, 3 steals, 1 block and 2 turnovers), but his tempo and playmaking were key for the Bucks as they eventually pulled away from Detroit. After both makes and misses, Carter-Williams controlled the team's pace and helped push the Bucks away from the Pistons.

Seven Bucks players, including all five starters, ended the night in double digits with Monroe (20 points) and Antetokounmpo (17 points) once again leading the way. Though Antetokounmpo ended the game as the team's second highest scorer, Middleton had a rock solid game (5/7 fg, 2/3 threes, 16 points, 4 assists) and really helped put the game away with eight third quarter points. Jabari Parker added 12 points in 27 minutes, including a pair of big dunks early in the third when the Bucks were pulling away.

The Bucks will be in action again on Wednesday as they welcome DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings to Milwaukee. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.

Tidbits:

  • O.J. Mayo collided with Stanley Johnson on a loose ball in the second quarter and immediately ran to the locker room after the collision. He played the rest of the game, but received seven stitches above his right eye after the game.
  • Johnny O'Bryant was the first player off the bench tonight for the Bucks and entered the game with 6:29 left in the first quarter.
  • Antetokounmpo once again picked up two early fouls again this evening. The second came on him grabbing Marcus Morris as Morris set a screen for a pick and roll. It was the third time Antetokounmpo had grabbed Morris while covering that specific action.
  • Neither point guard played much defense early. Reggie Jackson and Michael Carter-Williams went pretty much wherever they pleased in the first quarter. Jackson had four points and four assists in the first period, while Carter-Williams posted 10 points and two assists. MCW eventually amped up his intensity, including on two transition plays -- once where he chased down a Piston for a steal, and later when he coaxed a missed layup out of a one-on-one situation.
  • Monroe started the second quarter and had the chance to go at Pistons backup center Aron Baynes. Interesting lineup wrinkle from Kidd as he attempted to stagger his starters. Monroe ultimately played the entire second quarter.
  • In the second quarter, Spencer Dinwiddie made one of the silliest fouls I've seen this season as he treated Greivis Vasquez as someone who could blow by him in transition and fouled him to give Vasquez a chance at a three point play.
  • Greivis Vasquez raised his hand for two fouls during the second quarter. He was not awarded either foul. Monroe picked up one and Middleton received the other.
  • For some reason, there have been times in the last few games when Bucks bigs have not wanted to shoot the ball when getting touches at the rim, instead they've opted for making three feet passes to teammates.
  • Ersan tried to throw an alley-oop to Drummond on a fastbreak. You can guess how it went...
  • Watching Antetokounmpo on a regular basis makes you sort of numb to awe-inspiring athleticism. Drummond has that type of athleticism. It is staggering in person.
  • Greg Monroe played the entire second and third quarters. I can't think of a time in which he has played an entire quarter this season and tonight, he played two entire quarters.
  • John Henson couldn't have been any less effective early in the fourth quarter, picking up four fouls and looking sloppy on both ends before Kidd took the rather eye-opening step of replacing him with Antetokounmpo. Not what you'd expect Kidd to do in a blowout, but Antetokounmpo took advantage by scoring 10 of his 17 points in garbage time, with Parker eventually subbing in for an ineffective Johnny O'Bryant as well.
  • The Bucks have regularly found themselves down by a large amount and resorted to one-on-one plays offensively in an attempt to come back from behind. Tonight, it was the Pistons who stopped moving the ball and started forcing offense.
  • After the game, Stan Van Gundy said of his team, "We didn't have any energy. Period. If you play like that, you deserve to get blown out."

Thoughts:

  • Before the game, Jason Kidd talked about the Bucks point guards attempting to push the tempo. (Full comments here.) He specifically mentioned trying to get the ball across halfcourt with 21 seconds left on the shot clock and mentioned that the league's best offenses do that.  Before it turned into a blowout and the reserves came in midway through the fourth quarter, the Bucks were able to do that 21 of 34 times on made Piston shots and 22 of 26 times in transition. (h/t to CanadaBucks for seeing my Twitter request and keeping track)
  • It was a seemingly insignificant play, but during the fourth quarter, O.J. Mayo sprinted to the opposite free throw line, while O'Bryant attempted a jumper, which would make me think that transition defense was emphasized since the abomination in Indianapolis.

  • From midway through the second quarter to the start of the fourth quarter, the Bucks looked great. Their defense was impossibly good based on their showings thus far this season and the offense just continued to hum along. Impressive stuff. I feel confident in saying those are the two best quarters the Bucks have played this entire season.
  • Both times Monroe has faced off against the Pistons this season (once in the preseason), he has downplayed the significance of his matchup against Drummond. He's lying. After struggling a bit in the first quarter, Monroe dominated Drummond and the two even got into a post up back-and-forth in the second half. Monroe showed off the footwork and made some gorgeous moves to leave Drummond trailing behind in the third quarter.