It was a neck-and-neck first quarter to kick off this one with both teams exchanging punches early on. As the horn sounded, the Bucks held a minor advantage, 24-23. They were paced by several players tallying four points (Giannis, Lillard, and Beauchamp). Jalen Duren posted a game-high nine points in the opening stanza.
Milwaukee sliced and diced through the Detroit defense, rattling off a 19-2 run to begin the second quarter. The Pistons would scratch and claw their way back, but that big run served as a layer of insulation for a bulk of the quarter. Fueled by Bobby Portis energizing the crowd and a strong closeout to the quarter by Damian Lillard, the Bucks owned a double-digit lead at the break, 62-52.
The third would feature some fireworks. Following a staredown after a dunk, Giannis got assessed his second technical of the night, resulting in an ejection from the game. Following that moment, Milwaukee really began to crumble. Fueled by Cade Cunningham and Marcus Sasser, Detroit leapt in front late in the third. A Cam Payne buzzer-beater would close out the third, but the Pistons carried a 95-90 lead into the fourth.
Detroit would hold that lead until the dying embers of the game. Milwaukee, without Giannis, kept throwing haymaker after haymaker, making the Pistons wobble like a fighter being backed up into the corner of the ring. Ultimately, a Brook Lopez 3-pointer in transition was what landed the Bucks the lead again. Despite there being multiple opportunities for the Pistons, Milwaukee wouldn’t relinquish that lead once they grabbed it back. A Cade Cunningham half-court heave was well short, securing the 120-118 comeback victory for the Bucks.
Damian Lillard was the key cog for the Bucks, erupting for 34 points. It was well-needed after Giannis’ departure. Bobby Portis fueled the guys buy sinking 18 points off the bench and providing a massive boost of energy.
Cade Cunningham served as Detroit’s top point getter, rattling off 33 points. Marcus Sasser also put on an impressive show, going off for 26 points off the bench.
The Bucks are right back at it, as they tip off a back-to-back game tonight in Indianapolis.
What Did We Learn?
Throughout the second half, it appeared that the Bucks were going to cough this one up following the ejection of Giannis. Defense was faltering, offense was sluggish, and it felt like Detroit was hitting everything. However, down the stretch, Milwaukee flipped a switch. Bucks fans have to be delighted at how they didn’t give up. There were multiple times where it seemed as if they could go belly up, but instead, they kept bouncing back. Damian Lillard hit the nail on the head with his quote postgame:
The Bucks faced adversity tonight. Damian Lillard touted the team's unwillingness to break under the pressure.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) November 9, 2023
"I think for it to be this early in the season and for it to be so new, we came together really well in a moment like that where it could've gone the other way." pic.twitter.com/wYs4sSQL9Q
Adrian Griffin had some interesting comments regarding Giannis’ ejection.
As you might expect, Bucks Head Coach Adrian Griffin was asked about Giannis’ ejection in his postgame presser. They didn’t tell him anything. Additionally, he made it clear that he felt like Giannis’ reaction didn’t warrant a second technical and an ejection. Last, he stood up for his superstar player:
Here's Griff's full quote on this.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) November 9, 2023
"I think I need to be a little more just vocal during the games when he's [Giannis] getting hit and kind of stick up for him a little bit better, so I've been dropping the ball on that." pic.twitter.com/X1le9EPI9P
It is something that I have noticed a little bit here and there so far in this young season. Whenever there’s commotion on the court among players and the refs, Griffin tends to sit back and let things fold out. He hasn’t really showed much frustration to the refs himself, so maybe this is the case that sparks it. However, he said the right thing. Coaches need to back up not just their star players, but all their players. I expect Griff to be much more vocal to the referees moving forward.
Brook Lopez continues to be prove his worth.
Man, this guy is insane. Just under 20 seconds into this one, he notched his first block of the night. Right after that, he got another. Then he hit a three. And then another. By the end of the night, he connected on four of them, with none being bigger than his last one which gave Milwaukee a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The consistent play on both ends of the floor never falters. It’s unbelievable. In a league where so many variables are always changing, Brook Lopez remains constant. Postgame, I asked Dame about his teammate:
Damian Lillard is no stranger to the clutch moments, so I asked him his thoughts on that huge shot from Brook late in the fourth.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) November 9, 2023
"I had all the confidence in the world when he shot it." https://t.co/1qUb5aeVHN pic.twitter.com/sX4jVqGPVi
When Dame is saying that about your style of play, you know you’re doing something right.
Malik Beasley made a big impact on things.
This was definitely the best game of Beasley’s short Bucks tenure. He didn’t post a shining point total (just ten), but his impact was felt all over the court. Late in the game, his defense helped establish the win by locking up key Detroit players when the Bucks needed it most. Adrian Griffin started his presser by calling out all the positives that he brought to the table. Looking at the RPM, Beasley was the standout — a whopping +24. That shows you’re doing something right. I anticipate he’ll continue to make a strong impact tonight in Indiana on the back-to-back.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I don’t know if there’s a stat for this, but it seems like defenses are closing out on Lillard very quickly out on the perimeter. I’d be curious to see if there is a stat that can measure that. If so, I’d be curious to discover what that metric was in his past years out in Portland.
- How about my alma mater UWM sponsoring the Pistons’ jerseys? Just kidding, it’s United Wholesale Mortgage.
- Jae Crowder continues to be massive off the bench. He hit another pair of threes on the night and totaled 10 points. He also made a massive deflection on the Pistons’ in-bound play in the dying seconds of the game, forcing Cunningham’s heave from half-court. Additionally, he, Cam Payne, and MarJon Beauchamp have all been instrumental from deep to begin the season:
- Andre Jackson Jr. received first half minutes late in the second quarter. He didn’t score and he picked up three fouls, but he did snag one steal. His energy is what stood out the most, though. It was fun seeing him run around out there and being active like that.
- Cade Cunningham proved why he was the No. 1 pick a year ago. Man, that kid is special. At times, he just did what he wanted to.
- Marcus Sasser was a joy to watch too. It seemed like he hit more than several threes on the night. All of his shots seemed to come at the exact right moment for the Pistons.
- This was cool to hear from Adrian Griffin during his pre-game availability:
Bucks Coach Adrian Griffin earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. His dissertation was "How Active NBA Assistant Coaches Experience Stress, Stressors, Coping Strategies, and Interventions in a Competitive Sports Environment."— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) November 8, 2023
Pre-game, he dove into what it meant to him: pic.twitter.com/Xf5Zu2OKf6
- After scoring nine points and reeling in five rebounds in the first quarter, Jalen Duren was held to just two points and four boards the rest of the way. Milwaukee really limited his contributions moving forward.
- Last, here’s the pool report on Giannis’ ejection. Shoutout to Jim Owczarski for compiling this on his birthday!