– Brandon Jennings (30 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) tried to will their struggling Piston team to a road victory against the NBA’s worst the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, the Pistons squander another fourth quarter lead to reach a new low point in their 2013-2014 campaign. Meanwhile, the Bucks snap a 9-game losing skid, and win their first game in 2014 behind the vintage performance of Caron Butler (30 points, 7 rebounds) off the bench for Milwaukee.
Detroit came into a perfect situation Wednesday night in Milwaukee, on the road (10-10) were they have played better this season, playing a division opponent in Milwaukee (5-2), playing a team where Brandon Jennings has found success against this season to help rid him off his shooting funk, and are playing the team with NBA’s worst record (7-33) while they are riding a long 9-game losing streak. Of course, like only the Pistons can, they found a way to hit a new rock bottom for a team that seems like they are beginning to unravel with frustration.
Greg Monroe (18 points, 7 rebounds), got the scoring going early for Detroit, scoring 10 of his 18 in the first quarter for the Pistons. Detroit jumped out to a 10-4 advantage, before the Bucks closed the gap to start the second quarter. Cutting the Piston lead in half, 28-25 after one-quarter of play.
Without the help of Bucks’ starting Center Larry Sanders and offseason addition O.J. Mayo (held out Wednesday night with flu-like symptoms) other Milwaukee players needed to step up if they were to end their lengthy losing streak. Led by the play of Brandon Knight (16 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers) and Caron Butler (30 points, 7 rebounds), who turned back the clock to his Washington Wizard days, helped bring Milwaukee all the way back in the second to take a brief first half lead, 34-33, after a pair of Khris Middleton free throws.
The Pistons would outscore the Bucks in the second quarter 28-25 after a last second three-pointer courtesy of Brandon Jennings after a Rodney Stuckey strip and steal leading to the fast break tray. Detroit led at the halftime break, 56-50.
The Bucks kept within striking distance after a Piston spurt to start the third quarter, giving Detroit a double-digit second half lead, 76-66. The Bucks led by the impeccable shooting of Caron Butler got the score to within 4 points after three, 85-81, scoring 31 points in the third.
The fourth quarter is where it all went downhill for Detroit. Behind some sloppy basketball played by both the second unit guys (mostly Will Bynum and Kyle Singler) as well as the awful ball handling of Josh Smith, the Bucks were gifted a three-point advantage heading into the final two minutes of play, 102-99.
After a bailout Rodney Stuckey mid-range gun to cut the lead to one with 1:50 to go in the game, Brandon Knight nailed a free throw line jumper on the Bucks’ next possession. Giving Milwaukee the 104-101 advantage with 1:38 to go.
After 4 missed free throws courtesy of Brandon Knight and John Henson, Detroit had one final chance to tie the game with just over six ticks remaining. Out of the timeout, Josh Smith receives the pass and is immediately fouled by Ersan Ilyasova to send him to the line with five seconds left in the game.
After a pair of misses at the line from Smith, Brandon Knight wrestles the rebound out-of-bounds to the Pistons with 1.4 to go. Stuckey receives the pass in the corner and misses the three-point attempt off the high glass at the buzzer, dropping Detroit to (17-25) on the season, one game behind the Charlotte Bobcats (19-25) for the eight and final playoff spot in the East.
Frustration was eminent on the faces of players after the game, as they should be. The team has struggled tremendously on the defensive end of late, and the Bucks helped continue that trend. Detroit went scoreless the last 1:38 of the game with countless opportunities to put points on the board.
Detroit now a full game out of the playoffs, can not afford to drop any of their next few games. They face the struggling New Orleans Pelicans Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills, as they will be without star Point Guard Jrue Holiday.
Let’s hope to see a better defensive effort from Detroit Friday night against the Pelicans.
Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Brandon Knight Caron Butler Chauncey Billups Detroit Pistons Greg Monroe Joe Dumars Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Khris Middleton Kyle Singler Milwaukee Bucks NBA News New Pistons Rodney Stuckey Will Bynum