Milwaukee (9-8) at Detroit (6-12)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 44° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Dec 4, 2009
  • TV: FSWI, FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons are both enduring rough stretches.

The Central Division rivals meet for the second time this season Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills with Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva(notes) expected to return against his former team.

Milwaukee (9-8) has lost five of six and Detroit (6-12) eight of nine after both fell Wednesday. The Bucks dropped their fourth straight road game, 104-102 to Washington and the Pistons lost in Chicago, 92-85.

Detroit played its first game without Villanueva, who was out with a nasal fracture suffered in Sunday’s 94-88 win over Atlanta. Villanueva has been fitted with a protective mask and should play Friday.

Villanueva left the Bucks to join Detroit as an unrestricted free agent, signing a five-year, $35 million deal on July 8. He scored 12 points in his return to Milwaukee, a 96-85 loss Oct. 31.

That game was Brandon Jennings’(notes) first in Milwaukee and he made an immediate impression on the home fans by scoring 21 of his 24 points in the second half as the Bucks rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit.

The rookie has continued to shine, leading the Bucks with 21.5 points and 5.8 assists per game. His shooting percentage, though, is down to 30.5 percent over the last six games.

Jennings made 7 of 21 shots for 17 points Wednesday, including a tying 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds left.

“One bad call here, or a missed shot here or there, that’s what’s killing us,” Jennings said. “It’s not that the guys are not playing hard.”

The Bucks will again be without Michael Redd(notes), who is out with a knee injury. Coach Scott Skiles was ejected in the first quarter Wednesday and refused to use Redd’s absence as an excuse.

“We lost this game before the ball even went up tonight,” Skiles said. “We were not ready to play. Our defense was terrible. We had breakdown after breakdown after breakdown.”

The Pistons are hopeful Richard Hamilton(notes) and Tayshaun Price will return after they practiced Thursday. Hamilton has been sidelined by an ankle injury since the season opener while Prince has missed the last 15 games with a back injury.

Ben Gordon(notes) missed the Pistons’ previous two games with a sprained left ankle before returning Wednesday in his first game against the Bulls since signing as a free agent with Detroit on July 9. Gordon scored a team-high 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

“I wasn’t 100 percent, but I figured I’d go out there and make a sacrifice for the team and try to get us a win. … We had a lot of guys out,” Gordon said.

Pistons point guard Rodney Stuckey(notes) is averaging 21.5 points over his last four games and will try to reverse his history of poor play against Milwaukee. Stuckey, who will likely draw the assignment of guarding Jennings, is averaging 10.0 points on 32.3 percent shooting in five career starts against the Bucks.

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Friday, Dec 4