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Pistons at Bucks final score: Detroit loses a close one in Milwaukee, 110-108

Detroit has played two tough opponents well on back-to-back nights

Detroit Pistons v Milwaukee Bucks

The Detroit Pistons fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-108 on the second half of a back to back. Cade Cunningham scored 27 points and had 6 rebounds and 7 assists (and 5 turnovers), Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points, and Hamidou Diallo scored 13 points in long minutes off the bench for Detroit. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 31 points and 7 rebounds for Milwaukee.

After a 15-point deficit and an 18-4 Milwaukee run in the third quarter, Detroit clawed all the way back to tie the game with under a minute left to play. Then, Jrue Holiday (25 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists) hit a clutch stepback three with 45 seconds, Cade Cunningham missed a long (but open, and makeable) potential tying three, and the Pistons lost.

The Pistons were down 8 at halftime despite 19 first-half points from Cade; he was the only starter in double figures at that point. Cade’s performance over the last four games has been remarkable, a full display of the type of offensive player the Pistons expected him to be when he was drafted. He was deadly in the midrange, which has become his signature spot:

But Detroit needed every ounce of Cade’s mastery because, per usual, Brook Lopez put their offense in a chokehold. To me, Lopez remains the most important player whenever the Pistons play the Bucks. You can see how much the threat of his rim protection and shot alteration makes (non-Cade) guys reconsider driving into the paint. Lopez (24 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) OWNS everything 12 feet and in, and it shows whenever these teams play.

You wouldn’t see it from the box score unless you looked at +/-, but the Pistons bench kept them in this game against the Bucks bench. Well, to be more honest, the staggered lineups Dwane Casey has gone to instead of full 5-man bench lineups helped keep them in it; with always at least one of the (non-Stewart) starters on the floor, the offense was less, well, offensive. After seeing those full bench lineups get nuked for 5 games, I’m glad Dwane made that rotational tweak to help out the team.

Random Thoughts:

  • Nerlens Noel played his first minutes for the Pistons, scoring only 2 points with a steal and a block, but he felt functional as a backup big man.
  • Detroit outscored Milwaukee 31-22 in the final frame; a bounce here, a call there, and the Pistons could’ve snuck this one.
  • Jaden Ivey: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 0-4 from 3, 3 turnovers to 1 assist. I like Ivey, he does some ridiculous things, but he has a lot of room to get better, as well. Very excited to see how he grows.
  • After shooting 38 free throws against the Warriors, the Pistons shot only 21 free throws against the Bucks; It makes a big difference when guys like Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey are contributing 10 free throws instead of 5.
  • Oh yeah, Cade did all this with the full wrath of Jrue Holiday shadowing him. SUPER impressive stuff from Cade lately. Just in case I didn’t say that enough already.
  • I really liked the Hamidou Diallo - Jaden Ivey “Run Around And Do Stuff” pairing; that duo definitely makes the game entertaining, at the absolute least.
  • I loved the patience from Stew here in the clutch:

Detroit plays Milwaukee in Milwaukee again on Wednesday; part of the NBA’s scheduling efforts to cut down on travel. See y’all then.