It feels like it’s been 16 years since the Detroit Pistons last beat the Milwaukee Bucks.
For Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co., beating the Pistons has looked as easy as pie over the past four seasons. The Bucks have throttled them in the regular season. They’ve done it in the postseason.
Basically, when Milwaukee and Detroit meet, chalk it up as an L.
But with much of its roster back after a weeklong stay in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Monday, the Pistons looked... good. They played the Bucks tough. They made the open look and the toughies. They made life hard(ish) on Giannis.
After 16-straight losses to Milwaukee, they finally won.
Saddiq Bey scored 34 points while Josh Jackson popped off for 24 points as Detroit topped Milwaukee 115-106 for their first win over the Bucks since Feb. 28, 2018.
More to come.
Well, that was a fun one.
If you had concerns over whether or not Bey would continue his scoring surge with Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes returning to the lineup, you can put those to rest. Bey was unconscious, nailing 8 triples — finishing 2 shy of Joe Dumars’ team record of 10.
He scored inside. He scored outside. He looked confident. It’s crazy how bad he looked a few weeks ago compared to this. I’m the first to say that I had serious doubts over Bey as anything more than a 3-and-D scorer — especially after the early struggles.
But it looks like I was wrong, thankfully. He’s been one of the hottest scorers in the league over the last 10 games. It’s been fun to watch and was THE reason they won tonight.
I’d be remiss not to shoutout Josh Jackson. Fresh out of protocols, Josh had an opportunity with Frank Jackson out after Hamidou Diallo overtook him in Dwane Casey’s rotation last month. He made the most of it, hitting five triples to go with the dunk of the night:
Josh Jackson cleared for takeoff!— NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2022
Watch now on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/wVIrg3a7TL pic.twitter.com/anC1mM9M3j
Killian Hayes, who had a beautiful pass to set up that dunk, had 5 points and 4 assists in his first game back. The suffered a minor foot injury in the second half and did not return, but it appears that was more due to Casey’s affinity for Justin Robinson.
The 10-day’er got 23 minutes against his former team, hitting a 3-pointer while finishing +7.
Cade Cunningham looked like himself after a cold start with 17 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds. He played through some frustrating no-calls at the rim, but made ‘em when he needed to. This layup in the final minute was the kill shot for Detroit:
CADE CUNNINGHIM pic.twitter.com/l4Nme6hIkA— HIsiah Thomas (@RedAlternates) January 4, 2022
You can go down the box score and find the little things guys did to get this one over the line. Diallo filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Trey Lyles chipped in with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
I’m shocked that these guys who’ve missed so much time recently looked so good tonight. We’ve seen it across the NBA and NFL, when you get off the Covid list, it takes time to get back into a rhythm. Apparently that wasn’t the case tonight.
Now, it helps that Milwaukee had one of its worst shooting nights of the year. They hit just 11 of 46 shots from downtown. Giannis had 31 points while Jrue Holiday finished with 29, but Detroit did a good job containing Khris Middleton, who missed 7 of his 10 shots.
This losing streak was going to end at some point, but to end with the young guys really playing well — making winning plays down the stretch — that’s the best way it could have happened.