Detroit Pistons take 3:20 to score first point, lose to Milwaukee Bucks, 114-93

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The schedule has seemingly been relentless for the Detroit Pistons. Sunday brought a matchup against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Miami Heat visiting on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, they travelled to Milwaukee to take on the defending champs. The Pistons were able to shake off an early cold start, but the Milwaukee Bucks were ultimately too much to handle. The Pistons (4-14) fell to the Bucks, 114-93, behind strong performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals) and Bobby Portis (28 points, 10 rebounds, 6-for-7 from 3).

Trey Lyles led the Pistons with a season-high 19 points off the bench, Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey added 13 points each and Saben Lee scored 12 points, dished out five assists and tallied four steals in 29 minutes, setting season highs in each category. Cory Joseph, who was probable with a right ankle sprain before the game, started but only played seven minutes.

Frank Jackson sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter after stepping on Grayson Allen's foot, and didn't return.

Detroit Pistons' Luka Garza shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Milwaukee.
Detroit Pistons' Luka Garza shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Milwaukee.

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Lee seizes opportunity

We haven't seen much Lee this season. The 2020 second-round pick was a nice surprise as a rookie last season, but a crowded backcourt has made it tough for him to find minutes, with six appearances for a total of 43 minutes entering Wednesday.

Lee has spent a significant amount of time with the Motor City Cruise, looking like a superstar with the Pistons' G League team by averaging 37.7 points and nine assists during his first three games.

Injuries have forced Lee back into the rotation, and he had his best game of the season Wednesday. He knocked down two 3-pointers, and generated offense for himself by cutting to the rim. He also opened up shots along the perimeter by getting to the rim and used his hands to force turnovers. Lee is one of the most athletic Pistons, and he gave them a needed energy boost.

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons dribbles the ball against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum on November 24, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons dribbles the ball against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum on November 24, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Pistons shake off cold start

It's common for teams to lack energy on the second night of a back-to-back. The Pistons fell to the Heat on Tuesday, and then immediately headed to Milwaukee. Detroit is shorthanded due to injuryand suspension. It was going to be a tough night.

But Wednesday might've been their coldest start of the season. The Bucks opened the game with a 14-0 run, and the Pistons didn't score their first bucket until 3:20 into the game, when Cade Cunningham found Luka Garza open for a layup. The starting five just didn't have much energy, forcing coach Dwane Casey to make frequent rotations early, with 10 Pistons appearing in the opening quarter.

The Pistons finally found a spark late in the quarter, and Lyles was most responsible. Detroit fell behind by 17 with 3:45 to play in the first, but finished the period with a 15-4 run to cut the deficit to six. Lyles scored eight points during the stretch, including a 3-pointer that barely beat the buzzer.

Detroit cut the deficit further, to three midway through the second. Cunningham checked in, then knocked down a 3-pointer not long after to make it 46-43. But whenever the Pistons threatened, the Bucks responded with force. They closed the second with an 18-9 run to extend their lead back to 12. The Pistons got within six midway through the third, after back-to-back 3-pointers by Bey, but Milwaukee responded with a 10-2 run to extend the lead to double-digits for good.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons start slow, lose to Milwaukee Bucks, 114-93