At the half with the Detroit Pistons down 12 to the co-Central Division leading Milwaukee Bucks, Pistons commentator George Blaha said the Pistons had a “bad second quarter.”
George was being quite polite with that statement.
The Bucks outscored the Pistons 30-16 in the second quarter, and it really could have been much worse had the Pistons defense not been at least half locked-in. Speaking of defense, the Bucks knew exactly what the Pistons wanted to do in the second quarter and didn’t let Blake Griffin run the show as he certainly did in an excellent quarter one. The Bucks swarmed Blake and otherwise played stellar team defense. Some poor Pistons shot selection also hampered their second quarter effort.
Fast forward past a decent third quarter in which the Pistons put up 34 points (outscoring the Bucks by eight) and then the fourth quarter where Stanley Johnson was pretty much Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson, and the Pistons found themselves in a back and forth thriller with the Bucks after being down as much as 15 points in the third.
It was the Stanley Johnson show in the fourth. Stanley was scoring from all over. He was perfect from three-point land (4-of-4) in the quarter, making plays and inside and also doing man’s work on defense. Stanley finished with 20 points and six rebounds. We are seeing more and more of this offensive explosiveness from Stanley these days. Let it continue.
Blake Griffin had two three-point attempts in the last seconds of the game to tie, but could not get either to fall. The offense just continues to be a bit too Blake-centric, with Blake being asked to create almost everything. The team defers to him almost comically at times. Blake had himself a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but turned it over 10 times. Blake is taking a pounding most games as he’s asked to do too much (but sometimes it works) — this offense must find a way to make things easier for him.
Reggie Bullock scored a career-high 24 points tonight (on his typical efficient shooting, 9-of-14). Starting shooting guard Luke Kennard never looked comfortable and was way off on several of his looks, finishing 1-of-7 from the floor. Jose Calderon received all of the crunch time minutes finishing with five assists and two made shots.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo was simply too long, tall, and agile for the Pistons. With all of Milwaukee’s lethal perimeter threats spacing out the floor, it’s not difficult for Giannis to do what he does best, which is to get to the rim and then finish at the rim with reckless abandon (and sometimes with great finesse). The Greek Freak scored 32 on 15-of-21 shooting. Did he score more than one basket outside of the paint?!? Just look out when he actually finds himself a jump shot.
Khris Middleton was devastating at times, scoring 22 and dishing out six assists.
The Bucks offensive system and its weapons can be something to behold, yet the Pistons nearly kept up and had a chance.
Detroit will look to get back over .500 again as they play in Minnesota on Wednesday.