Pistons 121, Bucks 95
The Detroit Pistons responded with their second-biggest scoring outburst of the season.
Tayshaun Prince scored 28 points, and reserves Jason Maxiell, Antonio McDyess and Flip Murray also looked unstoppable at times and the Pistons cruised to a 121-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
The bench players’ strong performance came as no surprise to Pistons guard Chauncey Billups.
“These guys could be starters for any other team,” Billups said. “But for us, they are great coming off the bench.”
Detroit needed to rely heavily on reserves after losing Wallace to an NBA suspension and Hamilton to an illness that might have carried over to Webber during the game.
Starting in place of Wallace, Maxiell had 19 points and 15 rebounds—both career highs.
“One of our guys was kidding that we kind of keep him over there kind of chained up,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “When we let him loose, we feel sorry for the other team because he really goes. Our other guys have been playing so well, it was tough to play him. We somehow have to find time, a few minutes, to get him out there, because he changed the complexion of the game.”
Maxiell got off to a quick start, with 7 points, 6 rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter.
“He works so hard and gets involved,” Prince said. “Anytime his number is called, he is ready for it and produces. He’s going to make something happen no matter what.”
Guard Flip Murray started for Hamilton, shooting 5-for-6 from the floor in the first half on his way to scoring 16 points.
Forward Antonio McDyess scored 13 of his 20 points in second quarter, after Webber became ill and retreated to the locker room. Webber sat out the entire quarter before returning in the third.
As his bench made up for the missing scorers, Saunders provided a little bit of the fire the team might otherwise have been missing without Wallace—who earned an automatic one-game suspension after he was called for his 18th technical foul of the season for arguing a call during a loss to San Antonio on Friday night.
With 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, Saunders was called for a technical. Saunders did not go into detail about the call after the game—but it didn’t much matter, as the Pistons had the game under control with a 17-point lead at the time.
Milwaukee led by four after the first quarter, but McDyess and the Pistons shot 80 percent from the floor in the second quarter and pulled away to a 15-point lead at halftime.
This was the latest in a season-long series of defensive lapses that Milwaukee’s front office hopes new coach Larry Krystkowiak eventually will be able to fix.
“They had some energy guys that were getting some things done,” Krystkowiak said. “And we tried to live by the jump shot and those shots weren’t going in. And consequently, we ended up running a pretty big deficit.”
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 to lead Milwaukee, shooting 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
“Coach was telling me, ‘if you’re open, just shoot it,’ and all my teammates tell me the same,” Ilyasova said.
Charlie Bell added 17 points.
Krystkowiak said it was disappointing that his team couldn’t pounce on the shorthanded Pistons. But Bucks leading scorer Michael Redd said the Bucks—who have been riddled with injuries all season and will be without center Andrew Bogut and forward Charlie Villanueva for the rest of the season—still aren’t on a level playing field with the Pistons.
“Detroit has proven that they’re deep enough to win without those guys,” Redd said. “We’re depleted. We’re in no position to try to take advantage of anything.”
The Bucks had won their first two games—including a victory over San Antonio—after Milwaukee fired coach Terry Stotts on March 14. But the Bucks lost by a point to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and now have lost two straight.
Redd said he’s sick of all the losing.
“I hate it,” Redd said. “It’s horrible. But you’ve got to stay professional, and we’ll re-evaluate some things in the summertime.”
Milwaukee guard Earl Boykins returned from a sprained right thumb injury and scored nine points. … Krystkowiak said Milwaukee’s upcoming three-game road trip, which begins with games at Houston and Dallas, will provide a test of the team’s character. “This is a test for the future for a number of players, to see how we’ll handle a little adversity,” Krystkowiak said.