PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference first round; Pistons lead 2-1.
The Milwaukee Bucks look to even their first-round series with the Detroit Pistons, while the defending Eastern Conference champions try to regroup when the teams meet at the Bradley Center for Game 4.
The Bucks won a home playoff game against the Pistons on Saturday for the first time in 30 years as Detroit looked nothing like the team that blew out Milwaukee in the first two games of the series.
The Bucks won 124-104 in Game 3 behind 40 points from Michael Redd and a career-high 15 assists from T.J. Ford. They led by as many as 26 points and regained some momentum after losing by a combined 29 points in the first two contests on the road.
“They kicked our butts in every category they could,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “They shot the ball extremely well, they rebounded, they ran and defended. As I told our guys, we never got into playing our style of ball. They were much more aggressive than we were.”
Milwaukee lost 4-1 to Detroit in the first round in 2004 and 4-0 in the 1989 conference semifinals. The Bucks’ last playoff home win over the Pistons came in the opening round of the 1976 playoffs, a best-of-three series they lost 2-1.
The Bucks are trying to win a playoff series after falling behind 2-0 for the first time in franchise history.
“Nobody can ever say now that this Bucks team hasn’t won a playoff game in a while,” Bucks rookie Andrew Bogut said. “It’s just great to get your first win.”
The Pistons’ Ben Wallace picked up two early fouls and was ineffective, with one point, one block and five rebounds. Richard Hamilton picked up a flagrant foul for elbowing Redd in the third quarter and a technical foul as frustrations began to mount for Detroit.
“Sometimes losing games like this is a good thing for the team,” Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. “You don’t want to lose, but sometimes it’s a good to get everybody back to doing what we do.”
Billups scored 26 points and the Pistons shot 49 percent from the field, but they couldn’t keep up with Milwaukee, which shot 66 percent in the third quarter to blow open the game. Redd had 15 points in the quarter to help the Bucks beat the Pistons for only the second time in nine games.
Milwaukee made 11 of 17 3-pointers and shot 60.3 percent overall.
“Good offense leads to good defense,” Redd said. “Getting an open shot is better than shooting a poor shot and trying to get back on defense.”
The Pistons lost back-to-back games only twice all season and one of those times was the last two contests of the regular season, when they rested their starters.
“We’re not worried,” Wallace said. “We still have control of the series.”
Detroit has never lost a series in which it has led 2-0.
Game 5 is Wednesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Pistons - 1st seed. Bucks - 8th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Pistons - Billups, 20.0 ppg and 6.3 apg; Ben Wallace, 11.0 rpg. Bucks - Redd, 26.7 ppg; Magloire, 8.0 rpg; Ford, 7.0 apg.