For some teams, being down a pair of NBA All-Stars on the road would spell trouble.
The Milwaukee Bucks aren't one of those teams.
And the Detroit Pistons aren’t one of those opponents.
Led by rookie Jaden Ivey, the Pistons gave the Bucks — sans a pair of All-Stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday — all they could handle for three quarters.
Then the fourth quarter rolled around and, stop me if you’ve seen this movie before, the Pistons fell apart. Milwaukee, led by Jevon Carter, shook off a rough third quarter and took control for good, handing the Pistons an 126-117 loss — their sixth in a row.
Let’s start with Ivey, because frankly there wasn’t a whole lot to love tonight outside of him.
There’s been a lot of chatter about whether he would make All-Rookie First Team. I thought maybe he needed a “splash” game to turn some heads and get back into the good graces of whomever votes on that.
Well, tonight he splashed.
Ivey was on one from the get go, grabbing rebounds, dishing assists and scoring efficiently from all over the court. He scored a career-high 32 points while handing out 8 assists and grabbing 8 rebounds.
Ivey really was in control from start to finish, showing off the kind of all-around game that some of his rookie contemporaries in the state of Indiana vying for that final spot on the All-Rookie First Team just lack.
It’s amazing how much Ivey has grown from opening night to now. He went from having a shaky feel for the game as a point guard and no midrange game to looking like a legit point guard and scoring routinely from the midrange.
Just an incredible development, a thing that makes you smile during a season in which those moments were hard to come by.
Speaking of good moments, the other guy that really stuck out to me was Jalen Duren.
The beneficiary of many of Ivey’s passes, Duren played really well overall with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. I figured both he and James Wiseman would struggle with Brook Lopez patrolling the paint for Milwaukee, but Duren was mostly unbothered.
Wiseman did have some issues, but rallied in the second half a bit to finish with 14 points.
Killian Hayes (14 points, 5 assists) and Marvin Bagley III (16 pooints, 9 rebounds) had solid individual stat lines, but weren’t all that impactful out there. Hayes, in particular, really took the reigns late when Ivey probably should have just been doing his thing with the ball.
For Milwaukee, it was everyone playing well.
No Giannis and Holiday meant a lot of Khris Middleton... and he did not disappoint. He’s been on a heater lately and kept it rolling with 34 points and 8 rebounds, while Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez both finished with double-doubles.
Holiday’s replacement, Carter, looked like a long, lost Curry brother, hitting 6 of 7 from downtown to finish with 22 points.
Ultimately, Detroit was doomed by its inability to find the Bucks’ open shooters and get a body on their offensive rebounders — Milwaukee hit 14 3-pointers and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds.
The Pistons have seven games to go, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your appetite for losses. The next one comes on Wednesday in OKC against the Thunder.
As always, let us know your thoughts on tonight’s game in the comments.