NBA-best Bucks continue dominance of sputtering Pistons
LOS ANGELES, USA – The Milwaukee Bucks, who have the NBA's best record, continued their drive to clinch homecourt advantage in the playoffs with a 126-106 win over the struggling Detroit Pistons on Thursday, February 20 (Friday, February 21, Philippine time).
Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and 16 rebounds as the visiting Bucks disposed of their Central Division rivals for the 11th straight time.
Khris Middleton tallied 28 points and 8 rebounds for the Bucks, who have won 15 of their last 17 games.
"That was a really impressive first half and I thought we did a lot of good things in the second half, too," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said.
"Our energy had been good the last two days, but that doesn't always equate to good play. There were a lot of positives for the first game after the (All-Star) break."
They have beaten Detroit 3 times this season after sweeping the Pistons in the opening round of last year's playoffs.
Eric Bledsoe had 19 points and 6 assists, and Brook Lopez delivered 18 points in the win in front of a crowd of 20,300 at Little Caesars Arena.
The Bucks, who improved their record to 47-8, will conclude the season series against Detroit on March 23 at Milwaukee.
The best from The Greek Freak:— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 21, 2020
33 PTS | 16 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL pic.twitter.com/yJ3kRBa2wm
Christian Wood led Detroit with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Bruce Brown had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Derrick Rose and Langston Galloway scored 12 points apiece for the Pistons, who lost their fifth straight game.
The Bucks led 70-41 at halftime as Antetokounmpo powered the offense with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists.
Antetokounmpo had 10 points and 8 rebounds during the first 8 minutes, and the Bucks led 32-18 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Antetokounmpo was back in action against the Pistons after missing the last two Bucks' games because of the birth of his first child.
The way this season plays out could have long-term implications on the team. He'll be eligible for a contract extension this summer and could enter free agency following the 2020-2021 season.
But Antetokounmpo addressed his future during the recent All-Star break, saying that he plans to remain in Milwaukee as long as the team is winning.
The hapless Pistons, who are 29 games behind the Bucks in the standings, were without Blake Griffin, who is out for the season after having knee surgery.
Detroit is in a rebuilding mode after trading away center Andre Drummond earlier this month and buying out guard Reggie Jackson.
The Pistons appear to have packed it in for this season and are doing a lot of experimenting with their rotations as they seem to set their sights on getting a high draft pick.
"With a young team, it takes getting smacked upside the head a few times to wake them up a little bit," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "Tonight showed everyone how far we still have to go when it comes to building our roster and developing our young players." – Rappler.com