Marcus Sasser owns the Milwaukee Bucks.
The rookie guard played the best game of his young career in November when he dropped 26 points against the Detroit Pistons’ Central Division rivals. He was at it again on Monday, slashing his way to 23 points off the bench against those same Bucks at LCA.
Much like his previous outburst — one that came in a hard-luck loss — the Pistons folded late once again, losing 122-113 to Milwaukee.
Facing off for the second game in a row, the Pistons ran out of gas and the Bucks came away by with another unimpressive (for their standards) win. Marcus Sasser put Detroit up 109-107 with a short floater at the 5:52 mark of the fourth.
Milwaukee responded with a 15-2 run to take an 11-point lead with two minutes to go, effectively ending this one. Jaden Ivey (17 points and 6 assists) hit a midrange jumper in that stretch, and that was only offense the Pistons could muster until it was all but over.
The Pistons actually played a really solid game defensively.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 31-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, but he shot just 11 of 25 from the field. Damian Lillard, who torched the Pistons last time out, missed 11 of his 15 shots and Malik Beasley shot 5 of 14 from the field.
Yet the Bucks found a way to win. What a team we have in Detroit, y’all.
Isaiah Stewart returned from injury and looked great off the bench. He defended Giannis well all night long, and had a tangible impact on both ends of the court with 19 points and 5 blocks. He knocked down a pair of triples as well.
The Pistons really struggled defensively when he sat, and when the Bucks made their run midway through the fourth quarter, you guessed it, Stew was on the bench.
It’s weird, but I think this bad Pistons team is actually a decent body-for-body matchup against these Bucks. Detroit’s guards have success against Milwaukee’s lackluster backcourt defense and they have enough big bodies to throw at Giannis and Co.
Obviously, that doesn’t translate to many wins — but in three games they’ve had a chance at beating the Bucks. It just makes me laugh because the last good Pistons team — the Blake Griffin playoff team in 2019 — could not have been a worse matchup for the Bucks.
We’ve had plenty of complaints about this team throughout the season, but an early bugaboo that has not gotten better is the fourth quarter offense. Detroit’s struggles early on, before The Losing Streak became historic, was their stagnant offense late games.
Even with Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points) healthy, that has not gotten better. Hell, he didn’t play late in this one anyway.
Sure, having Cade Cunningham would help, but this was a problem with him, too. Monte Morris might return this week, and he, too, would help... but if he comes back then I’m not sure where Sasser’s minutes come from — barring an Alec Burks (9 points) trade.
If the Pistons are healthy on Wednesday when they host the Charlotte Hornets, the backcourt is going to be crowded with Cunningham and Jaden Ivey + Sasser and Burks with Morris and, I guess, Killian Hayes left. Finding minutes for players who don’t suck is a good problem for Monty Williams to have.
Let us know your thoughts on tonight’s game in the comments.