Few medicines go down smoother than dominating an ailing team, and the Bucks guzzled down their Pepto gleefully tonight, destroying the Detroit Pistons, 119-94. A close match in the first half broke wide open in the third, as Milwaukee dominated in the paint and from behind the three-point line led by Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Jabari was an absolute force all night, scoring 31 points on 4-7 from three with nine rebounds, seven assists and a steal, inching closer to a triple-double than his running mate. Giannis still lodged a healthy 23 points, five rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Greg Monroe added a stat-stuffing 14 points, five rebounds and six assists against his former squad. Delly and Snelly had 11 each, going a combined 5-5 from deep. Thon made an appearance and missed a few threes, but nailed a pull-up jumper. Mitchell, Frank and I discussed the festivities in podcast form shortly after the final buzzer:
Tobias Harris was the only standout for Detroit, at least offensively, managing 23 points and 12 rebounds on the night. Reggie Jackson scored fourteen with six assists and Andre Drummond added 16 points and nine boards, but Jackson didn’t score in the second half while Drummond managed only four. Noted Bucks killer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored only six, all of those coming in the first quarter, and went 3-7 without a three-point attempt on the night.
Caldwell-Pope’s reticence from the three-line didn’t stop Detroit from actually exceeding its season average (22) from deep with 24 attempts, the problem was they only hit six of them. Milwaukee, meanwhile, poured in 11-22 and shot 57% from the field to Detroit’s 44%. Detroit managed only four fast-break points while Milwaukee got to 15, ten of those coming in the second half.
Delly slipped a pass under the hoop to a cutting Parker to start the game’s scoring, followed by a Giannis mid-paint pull-up against poor, spindly Jon Leuer to put the Bucks up early. The teams traded buckets for some time, but Parker kept going strong, nailing a three and pounding his way to the hoop for a bucket against Leuer to make it 17-16 at the first break. Andre Drummond flummoxed the Bucks’ defense coming out of the commercial by merely rolling to the rim, as Monroe and the back line defense failed to contain him en route to 10 points on the quarter as Milwaukee led 31-28 after one. Giannis came in for the last minute or so, but finished with only two points on 1-2 shooting, with Jabari leading the way at 11 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added six for Detroit.
Giannis worked on a give-and-go with Monroe early in the second to start the scoring, and slammed so hard on Tobias Harris I’m pretty sure he erased any lingering memories Harris had of his time in Milwaukee:
Giannis finished off a personal 7-0 run by giving Leuer memories of sliding down icy Bascom Hill on a finish in the lane, followed by an and-one layup against Ish Smith. A Delly three put the Bucks ahead 41-34, but Detroit answered with an 8-0 run capped by Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson plunking home three pointers to put them up 42-41 with six minutes to go. The Bucks responded with a three parade, as Snell and Delly splashed their own before Parker nailed two open looks to regain a 53-47 lead. Giannis got up to Giannis things right after, finishing in transition and out-hustling the Pistons on the boards with an and-one layup giving Milwaukee an 11-point lead. Jackson ended the half with a monstrous slam over Giannis, but Detroit still trailed 62-54.
Jabari had 19 on the half on 8-11 shooting, 3-5 from three, and Giannis had 13 points and five assists, finishing 5-6 from the free throw line. Delly chipped in nine going 2-2 from deep. Reggie Jackson had 14 points, with Drummond and Tobias Harris tossing in 12 a piece. Milwaukee shot 54% on the half compared to Detroit’s 50%, but the Bucks went 7-11 (64%) from deep to Detroit’s 3-11 (27%).
Jon Leuer opened the second half with a bucket, which Giannis one-upped with a three-pointer on the other end. After a wicked Parker pull-up, Andre Drummond hit a putback off a bad KCP miss to make it 68-58. Giannis exacted his revenge on Jackson for his first half dunk-cap, with a thunderous transition slam off a Jabari steal as Milwaukee led 70-60. Milwaukee broke the game open to close the third, using all parts of the halfcourt to dominate down low and out top as Jabari hit his fourth three of the night before Milwaukee went into the fourth leading 90-75.
Milwaukee extended their lead to start the fourth, with a Giannis hesitation layup and-one over Baynes putting them up 99-80. Giannis nailed a pull-up jumper minutes later with Johnson draped all over him, and then a Jabari and-one put Milwaukee up 106-84. The Bucks didn’t let up, and the starters eventually left with about three minutes left and Milwaukee leading 115-89. Thon nailed a pull-up jumper while Plumlee slammed home an dunk that I think made the basket cha-ching like an old-timey cash register. The Bucks won out, 119-94.
- Tobias Harris certainly isn’t known for his defense, but he did an excellent job keeping his feet in front of Parker in the first quarter, stopping Jabari when he tried one of his super-speed hesitation crossovers in the paint. Parker got him back a bit later though. Real recognize real:
- Andre Drummond roasted Milwaukee on simple pick-and-rolls in the first quarter. It seems pretty tough to lose a man that monstrous literally barreling to the rim, but Milwaukee’s back line defense of Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker struggled to contain him as he rolled to the tin time and again.
- Reggie Jackson blocked Greg Monroe’s dunk attempt tonight. Monroe notably lacks a bit of lift, but ooh boy that’s never a fun sight.
- Jason Kidd got a technical foul after a second quarter break, directly after Tony Snell hit a three to give Milwaukee the lead back and snap an 8-0 Pistons run. Not the best timing coach.
- Here’s an entertaining article from the Wizards site, Truth About It about asking players the best way to guard Giannis. Near the end, Giannis concedes the only way to guard him is just by playing harder. A second quarter sequence when he missed a layup, tipped it to himself and nabbed a second and third board against Tobias Harris exemplified the difficulty in that:
- John Henson hit another jumper tonight. That was his second in a row after nailing one against Washington on Monday. He attempted 16 shots all of last year from 10-19 feet, and hit seven of them (44%). He’s already attempted 17 from that distance this year, hitting four (24%).
- Jon Leuer had a rough night on the defensive end. Not only was he put on skates by Giannis and treated like one of those shields trainers use in post-up drills, he also had his nuts smacked by an...errant...Delly knee as the Australian fought through a screen. True grit indeed.
- Detroit was more than happy to switch screens on multiple occasions tonight, matching Reggie Jackson up with Giannis both on the perimeter and down low. Giannis took advantage of it whenever possible, bullying his way to the post and demanding the ball. He had a few close pull-ups rim out and wasn’t quite as effective as one would hope, but him demonstrably asking for the ball during a mismatch is always encouraging.
- Greg Monroe missed an easy dunk in transition in the third after Brogdon found him with a beautiful bounce pass. After a quick steal on the other end, he was fed the ball while still trudging from the other end of the court. He wisely held up and dished it to Beasley for a layup while setting a great example for kids to always acknowledge their deficiencies.
- Detroit had the league’s fourth-best defense coming into tonight. The Bucks put up 119 points on them. That is all.
- As the game wound down and the Bucks were up big, Giannis got a rebound and sent an underhand scoop pass to Jabari up court like he was throwing a bowling ball down the lane. Jabari caught it, dribbled to the elbow and flipped a nonchalant backwards pass to a trailing Jason Terry for a three-point attempt. Terry missed badly, but the end result is somewhat superfluous. The Bucks superstars feel like they can toy with opponents in a dominating win, pulling schoolyard plays designed to whip a crowd into a frenzy if they wind up working. Slowly but surely, there’s a swagger rising in those building blocks. Now they just have to show it every night.