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Bucks vs. Pistons Final Score: Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris too much for Bucks in Detroit, 102-95

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Alas, there was only room for one Wisconsin sports miracle in the state of Michigan this week.

A day after Detroit fans were left stunned by Aaron Rodgers and the miracle at Ford Field, the Bucks were unable to pull off a win, much less another miracle, against the Pistons at the Palace on Friday night. Andre Drummond (17p/23r), Reggie Jackson (23p/5a on 8/14 shooting) and Marcus Morris (23p) were Milwaukee's chief tormenters, as Detroit outscored the Bucks 25-10 off turnovers and did just enough to stiff-arm the Bucks down the stretch.

Khris Middleton continued his strong play of late with 21 points, though you wouldn't have known it from the first three-plus quarters. Instead, Middleton went the better late than never route, scoring 14 in the final five minutes and nine in the final minute alone, hitting three of the Bucks' four triples to keep Milwaukee vaguely in it late. Greg Monroe added 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in his first appearance as a visiting player in Detroit, though he scored just four in the second half, none in the final quarter and continued his habit of missing bunnies (7/15 shooting).

Giannis Antetokounmpo (barely) snapped his three-game single-digit scoring streak with 12 points and nine rebounds, though he was once again hamstrung by two early fouls in a scoreless first quarter and was largely quiet after an eight point burst in the second quarter. Jabari Parker added 10 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes and played with Antetokounmpo down the stretch, but the Bucks hit just one three in the first 43 minutes of the game and could never draw closer than five down the stretch.

Both teams struggled offensively in the early going, but Detroit never trailed and closed the first half on a 10-2 run...and that was basically it. The Pistons simply didn't make enough mistakes to compensate for the Bucks' poor shooting, as Detroit hit 19/22 free throws in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over just nine times overall.

The Bucks (7-13) travel back to Milwaukee tonight and start a three-game homestand tomorrow against the Knicks.

- Frank Madden

Tidbits:

  • Tyler Ennis missed tonight's game with soreness in his left shoulder from an injury on Thursday during practice.
  • The lineup tinkering continued tonight. Notable first appearances: Jabari Parker for Antetokounmpo with 5:56 left in the first quarter. Michael Carter-Williams for Jerryd bless with 4:50 left in the first quarter. Rashad Vaughn for O.J. Mayo with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Henson for Monroe at the start of the second. Johnny O'Bryant for Parker with 10:51 left in the second quarter.
  • Vaughn started the third quarter for the Bucks in the place of Mayo.
  • Bayless left the game after stepping on Reggie Jackson's foot and turning his ankle with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
  • O.J. Mayo turned the ball over and over and over tonight.
  • With Bayless, Ennis and Greivis Vasquez (ankle) out, Michael Carter-Williams was the only point guard left on the roster by the fourth quarter, though Kidd eventually opted to use Mayo, Giannis, Middleton, Parker and Monroe/Henson down the stretch.
  • The Bucks had a nice flurry of action with five minutes left in the fourth when Middleton picked up a loose ball and missed a close one that Parker eventually rebounded and missed twice. Eventually, Henson was able to tip in the loose ball.
  • The deficit remained at six for the final five minutes with multiple chances for the Bucks to cut it down to four, but they just couldn't manage to hit the necessary shots.
  • Despite another monster night on the boards from Drummond, the Bucks managed to outrebound the Pistons 51-46.

Thoughts:

  • Two times in the first half Pistons bigs played way off of Antetokounmpo and Antetokounmpo put the ball in his right hand to pull up for a jumper. He hit one and missed another. (There were many other times this happened and things did not go well, but I decided to highlight these two instances.)
  • Antetokounmpo's closeout are really bad. His physical tools are incredible obviously, but this is one of the (many) little things he struggles to do defensively. His closeouts are regularly all arms and he rarely gets his body close to his matchup. He doesn't really make defenders feel uncomfortable on their jump shots.
  • Parker remains aggressive when he gets the ball, but it's very difficult to put up big scoring nights when you avoid jump shots and play only 19 minutes.
  • After Henson played well defensively on Monday night, I asked Jason Kidd post-game about how to get more defensive performances like that out of Henson and he said, "I think a lot of times our bigs just want to touch the ball and I thought tonight was a perfect example of that. Rim running and being able to touch the ball, even if he didn't score, just helped him feel involved."

    Henson scored six points in the second quarter and he looked really good defensively. Though his defensive reputation might suggest that Henson brings it defensively every night, it sounds more like he is like a typical basketball player that wants to feel involved offensively to play well on the other end.
  • The Bucks' defensive rating in the last five games is 97.4. When taking a look at individual Defensive Ratings during that time, Monroe has recorded a defensive rating 102.4, the team's second highest DefRtg, in 27 minutes per game. While he has only played 17 minutes per game, John Henson has recorded the team's lowest at 88.2.

- Eric Nehm