Pistons 84, Bucks 83
MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Detroit Pistons simply don’t get rattled on the road, even against a desperate team that just got its star player back from injury.
“We stay poised down the stretch no matter what the score is, no matter who the opponent is,” Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. “We get what we want.”
Billups led the Pistons with 19 points, and helped hound Williams into his missed shot on the final play.
With the victory, the Pistons are 16-9 on the road this season—making them the only team in the Eastern Conference with a winning road record.
“It was ugly,” said Rasheed Wallace, who scored 16 and added 11 rebounds for Detroit. “I’ll take it, though.”
Detroit spoiled the return of Redd, who played for the first time since straining the patellar tendon in his left knee Jan. 5. Redd scored 17 in limited minutes for Milwaukee, shooting 7-for-18 from the field.
“That was to be expected,” Redd said. “I only played 29 minutes. It felt like 50.”
Billups, who was guarding Williams on the final play, said he recognized the offensive set from watching previous games and forced Williams into taking the shot from a tough angle.
“But he still got a good look at it,” Billups said.
Bucks coach Terry Stotts said Williams was supposed to drive on the final play and kick it outside if a shooter came open. None did, so Williams correctly took the shot.
“We played a good game,” Stotts said. “It was kind of the same old, same old—coming up short in the last minute.”
The Pistons led by double digits for most of the first half, but Milwaukee went on a 9-0 run to cut their lead to 47-41 at halftime.
“I think that was a typical game after the All-Star break,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “We came out really sharp, then we lost our legs a little bit.”
Redd sparked a third-quarter rally by making his first 3-pointer of the game less than a minute into the second half to cut the Detroit lead to five. After a tip-in by Andrew Bogut, Redd’s jump shot then cut the lead to one, 49-48.
Redd later came up with a steal, and Bell hit a fast-break layup to give the Bucks a 54-53 lead with 7:03 left in the third quarter—their first lead since a 2-0 lead to start the game.
Redd, the Bucks’ leading scorer at 27.7 points, missed 20 games after the injury, which occurred when he went up for a meaningless late dunk in a loss to Cleveland.
Redd attributed his misses to not having his legs yet, and said he expected to be back in game shape soon. Redd started the game 1-for-5, playing only 5:15 in the first quarter.
“It’s going to come back to me,” Redd said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Bell said the team, which was only 3-17 without Redd, can’t get discouraged about not having immediate success in his return.
“Once Michael gets back healthy and gets his legs back underneath him, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Bell said. “I really believe that.”
Bell scored on a driving layup to cut the Detroit lead to 1 with 30.9 seconds remaining. Wallace then missed an off-balance jumper with the shot clock running out, giving the Bucks a shot at the victory with 7.1 seconds remaining.
Williams inbounded the ball to Bogut. He gave it back to Williams, who drove the lane and missed a layup.
“Right now, we’re not getting wins,” Bell said. “But I know it’s going to come.” ^Notes: Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said he injured his right hand in the All-Star game on Sunday and it remains a “little sore”. … Milwaukee’s Charlie Villanueva did not dress for Tuesday’s game, sitting out his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. He is considered day-to-day. … Bucks guard Earl Boykins played despite needing stitches after sustaining a large gash in his right leg against Boston Feb. 14. … Bell, a former star at Michigan State, couldn’t help crowing about the Spartans’ victory over newly crowned No. 1 Wisconsin. “Wisconsin had a short reign at No. 1,” Bell said. “I feel bad for them, but go green.”