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Pistons dominate Bucks in paint en route to win

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- After reviewing tape of his team's 113-94 loss at Detroit from a week ago, Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Drew was concerned about his team's ability to combat the Detroit Pistons' bruising and talented front court.

Drew's concerns were warranted Wednesday as the Pistons dominated the Bucks down low in a 105-98 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Detroit (9-10) only had two more points in the paint that Milwaukee, but held a 12-rebound advantage on the boards and 22-11 advantage on second-chance points.

"We were really concerned about match ups," Drew said. "We felt they were just too big and we'd have to mix our defenses up and hopefully out-rebound those guys. We just could not physically overcome that size."

Center Andre Drummond led the way, scoring 18 points with 19 rebounds and forwards Josh Smith and Greg Monroe added 17 and 18 points, respectively, while combining for 23 rebounds.

"We're starting to gel," said Drummond. "We're starting to find ourselves a bit. The first half was tough for us because we were fatigued a little bit, but we can't let that be an excuse. We came out in the second half and played like we were supposed to play."

In the rematch between traded point guards Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings, it was Jennings who had the last laugh by going 2-0 against his further team though he didn't exactly blow the roof off.

Jennings went 4 of 16 from the field but made a pair of 3-pointers and was 7 of 8 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points and 11 assists in his first game in Milwaukee since being dealt to the Pistons in a sign-and-trade deal earlier this year.

"It wasn't my best shooting game so far but we got the win," Jennings said.

Jennings was booed early by the announced crowd of 12,835.

"I was real nervous to be honest," Jennings said. "I was real nervous at the beginning because I'm not used to being on this side. It was a lot of emotions going on but once the second half started, I was able to settle down and just play basketball."

Milwaukee (3-15) whittled down a 14-point lead in the final quarter but couldn't get over the hump, missing a golden opportunity when forward Ersan Ilysasova missed a layup that the Pistons converted into an easy dunk by Drummond.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo made it 80-73 on a layup with 10:57 to play, but Milwaukee hit only one of its next nine attempts from the floor before point guard Brandon Knight made it an 89-77 game on a layup with 5:31 left.

Ilyasova scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Bucks, who also got 12 points each from Knight and forward John Henson.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton made four of five 3-pointers to finish with 14 points, while backup point guard Luke Ridnour had 10 points and eight assists.

"They try to play aggressive against us and they got a lot of calls," Ilyasova said. "We always rely on our jump shots. We've got to the rim some time."

Milwaukee blocked five of Monroe's shots in the first half and had 10 total blocks at the break. The Bucks used a 15-1 run to take their first lead of the game midway through the second quarter and led 50-45 at halftime despite shooting 40 percent from the field.

The Pistons came out hot in the third, and with a 16-0 run of their own, took a 80-67 lead into the fourth.

"We were defending and rebounding," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. "That was the key at halftime. We talked about getting multiple stops and once we did, we could push the ball up a little bit."

The Bucks finished with 13 blocked shots, and they shot 39.6 percent. The Pistons blocked 11 shots and hit 38.4 of their field-goal attempts.

NOTES: Wednesday marked the return of Brandon Jennings to Milwaukee. The Detroit point guard spent his first four NBA seasons with the Bucks, averaging 17 points and 6 assists in 291 games before being shipped to the Pistons for PG Brandon Knight this summer. ... Both the Bucks and Pistons played on the road Tuesday night, and both teams had their flight diverted to Chicago due to a heavy fog that settled in over Milwaukee. Both teams took buses from Chicago. ... Bucks C Larry Sanders was cited for disorderly conduct and assault and battery by Milwaukee police Wednesday in connection to a Nov. 3 incident at a downtown nightclub. Sanders injured his right thumb in that altercation and is not expected to return for at least three more weeks.
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