Wins have been hard to come by lately for the Detroit Pistons. They hope their latest one is the beginning of the end of that trend.
The Pistons look to build on a hard-fought win and take advantage of an injury-plagued Milwaukee Bucks team as they try to continue their dominance of their Central Division rivals Saturday night at the Bradley Center.
Detroit (26-21) had lost nine of 12 games before pulling out a 93-90 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.
The Pistons blew a 13-point third-quarter lead and missed four of their five free throws in the final 20 seconds before hanging on for their first win over a team with a winning record since defeating Denver on Jan. 9.
“When you are struggling, you never seem to break out of it with an easy win,” said Pistons coach Michael Curry, whose club had dropped six straight against teams with winning percentages above .500. “That’s what happened tonight.”
The Pistons have had plenty of easy wins over the Bucks (24-28) in recent years, taking 13 of the last 16 meetings and five of seven in Milwaukee in that stretch.
Milwaukee is improved under first-year coach Scott Skiles, who has the club in the mix for the playoffs with just two fewer wins than it had all of last season. However, the Pistons appear to be catching the Bucks at the right time.
Milwaukee leading scorer Michael Redd is out for the season with torn ligaments in his left knee, an injury he suffered two weeks ago.
Center Andrew Bogut said Thursday he will miss most - maybe all - of the season after tests this week revealed a stress fracture in his bothersome lower back.
“It’s a tough loss,” backup center Francisco Elson said of Bogut’s injury. “He’s our best defensive big man on the team, our No. 1 rebounder. The whole team has to step up.”
Point guard Luke Ridnour joined the list of injured Bucks when he broke his right thumb in practice Thursday, hours after the team traded reserve point guard Tyronn Lue to Orlando for shooting guard Keith Bogans. Ridnour will miss about four weeks and Ramon Sessions - the only pure point guard left on the roster - will likely start in his place.
Skiles expects guys like Sessions to pick up the slack in place of his three injured starters.
“We need a little bit more out of everyone,” Skiles said. “We’re talking about what we want the mentality to be and then we’ll see if we can do that. The script is the same, it’s just the actors have changed.”
Skiles’ understudies didn’t get the job done Tuesday night. Richard Jefferson had 27 points in his first game in New Jersey since the Nets traded him to the Bucks in the offseason, but Milwaukee shot 36.5 percent in the 99-85 loss.
“In this situation where we are short-handed, we need three, four, five guys to play well,” Skiles said. “We played hard tonight, we just didn’t play that well.”
That’s been the case in both of Milwaukee’s previous meetings with Detroit. The Bucks shot 40.5 percent in a 107-97 road loss Nov. 28 before shooting a season-low 30.4 percent in an 87-76 home defeat Dec. 27.
Pistons guard Allen Iverson has averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals in two meetings with the Bucks.