The game was over almost as soon as it began.
The Milwaukee Bucks, who have a championship-caliber roster and one of the game’s most dominant players in Giannis Antetokounmpo, quickly put away a hobbled Detroit Pistons team that was missing not only Cade Cunningham, but several other core players as well Monday night. Killian Hayes (left shoulder contusion) was a late scratch, and Isaiah Stewart (left shoulder soreness) missed his fourth game in two weeks.
Milwaukee opened the game with a 28-8 run in the first five minutes and three seconds and never looked back, easily putting the Pistons away with a 150-130 win. Bojan Bogdanovic (33 points, 11-for-15 overall shooting), Jalen Duren (career-high 23 points, 14 rebounds) and Jaden Ivey (12 points, career-high 11 assists) were three of the lone bright spots on a night the Pistons didn’t give fans much to cheer for.
The Bucks hit 12 of their first 13 shots, and Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 29 points in eight first-quarter minutes. When Antetokounmpo checked out with 3:33 to play in the opening period, the Bucks led the Pistons 40-12. He also tallied 12 rebounds and four assists. Detroit trailed by 25 points after the first.
It was another disappointing effort for the Pistons, who were blown out by the Bulls by 18 points in Paris last Thursday and played their first game since the trip. After a cold start, Detroit managed to end the night shooting 49.4% overall and 40.6% from 3. But their shooting splits improved in garbage time, as they were only able to get within 20 points the rest of the way.
Pistons honor Hall-of-Famer Bob Lanier
The Pistons lost one of their greatest figures in franchise history last spring when Bob Lanier, who played 10 seasons in Detroit from 1970-80 before finishing his career in Milwaukee, passed away on May 10 at the age of 73. With the Bucks in town , the Pistons honored Lanier’s legacy during Monday’s game.
At halftime, the Pistons hosted Lanier’s family at midcourt, and they were escorted by other notable players in franchise history. Lanier’s sons, Walter and Robert, were escorted by Lindsey Hunter and Ben Wallace, respectively. And Lanier’s daughters, Tiffany, Kimberly and Geraldine Stewart, were escorted by John Long, James Edwards and Dave Bing, respectively.
Throughout the game, other Pistons figures such as George Blaha and Rick Mahorn shared their memories of Lanier. Dwane Casey also shared his memories of Lanier before the game.
“Just a man’s man,” Casey said. “He represented the NBA in a way that you couldn’t even put a price on, all over the world.”
Ivey, Duren shine in garbage time
The Pistons have been shorthanded at point guard all season with Cunningham out for the season. Hayes has been Detroit’s best passer. With Hayes also in street clothes, Ivey had to take on even more playmaking responsibility.
Ivey put together his best playmaking performance of the season, conducting Detroit’s offense while taking care of the ball. He showcased good chemistry with Duren, who also had his best scoring night with 23 points. Duren did most of his damage in the second half, scoring nine points in the fourth and six in the third.
Duren did most of his damage on a steady stream of putback dunks and pick-and-roll buckets, but he also made all five of his free throws. He entered the game shooting 58.2% at the line, but has shot 69.6% since Nov. 25. He’s quietly been very solid at the line after a poor start.
This article originally appeared on the Detroit Free Press: Cold start costs Detroit Pistons in blowout loss to Milwaukee Bucks