The Pistons took it from a second blowout style loss to a don’t look now situation.
Never mind that it came against the contestants for the Bucks’ 15th man spot. The Pistons trailed by 17 points with seven minutes to go but saw a tie game in the final minute.
Henry Ellenson hit the tying bucket with 40 seconds left, but the Sterling Brown of the Bucks hit a pair of free throws to put the Bucks back up two with 20 seconds remaining.
Ellenson tried tying it up again out of the timeout going off the high glass but missed, Reggie Jackson missed on the tip and D.J. Wilson secured the rebound to seal the game.
It was Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond who led the comeback drive.
Drummond’s box score line looked nice, 18 points on 57 percent true shooting percentage, 22 rebounds, and 7 assists, but the bigger thing was that he bounced back after an extremely poor showing in Toronto with a much more engaged showing. He was the most effective starter for the Pistons tonight.
Between the end of the first quarter and the open of the second, the Pistons ran off a 13-0 run led by Ish Smith to take the first control of the game.
But just as quickly as they ran up that lead, they watched it melt away.
The Pistons went to zone to account for Boban Marjanovic’s defensive liabilities. And it was working. Until the Bucks subbed in Mirza Teletovic. With eight minutes left in the second, the Pistons were sporting a cozy 13 point lead. Then Teletovic nailed a pair of threes between a Pistons make. A Teletovic assist to a Rashad Vaughn three later, it’s a six point game.
With that momentum, the Bucks looked unstoppable. The Pistons certainly couldn’t do anything about Giannis Antetokounmpo. He filled the box score with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks, and a steal. Mirza capped off the inevitability of the Bucks win with a banked three pointer to close out the third quarter.
It’s to the Pistons’ credit that they rallied back, regardless of the opponent. Perhaps it’s even more admirable that they did so against the scrubs of the preseason for Milwaukee. It would have been easy to coast to the conclusion of a meaningless game. But they didn’t.
Drummond in particular deserves praise. In his team leading 35 minutes, there were very few nits to pick. And there was one moment where he came from the weak side with an explosive block on an explosive drive from Giannis. It was a meeting of two physical phenomenons that Drummond won decisively.
Harris didn’t have a great night overall, but was excellent in the fourth quarter - thanks in a big part to going 3-3 from three point range down the stretch.
Next time you see the Pistons, it’ll be the real thing. Wednesday at 7 p.m., they’ll open up the season against the Charlotte Hornets at Little Caesars Arena.
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