Bucks bashChris McCosky / The Detroit News
MILWAUKEE -- Reports of the Milwaukee Bucks' death were grossly exaggerated.
Or were they just premature?
The answer to that will depend largely how the Pistons respond to one of their worst playoff losses in recent memory.
The Bucks established a more aggressive tone and a faster tempo than they had in the first two games, running the Pistons out of the Bradley Center on Saturday, 124-104.
"There isn't much to say," coach Flip Saunders said. "They kicked our butts in every phase of the game. I told the guys, we never got into playing our style of ball. They were more aggressive than we were and I've said all along, the team that's most aggressive usually has most success."
The Pistons still lead the best-of-seven first-round playoff series 2-1, with Game 4 here Monday. And, however temporary, the Bucks have found a pulse.
"We never take anything for granted," said Bucks Michael Redd, who was brilliant, scoring 40 points, hitting 14 of 21 shots from the field. "We know they are a great team and they are going to keep competing. We have to keep playing hard, keep pushing and stay aggressive."
Redd had plenty of help. Six Bucks scored in double figures. Led by Maurice Williams (20 points), the Bucks' bench produced 47 points.
The Bucks shot a phenomenal 60.3 percent from the field. After distributing 30 assists in the first two games, the Bucks had 34 in Game 3.
The 124 points were the most allowed by the Pistons in a regulation playoff game since they gave up 123 to Atlanta in 1991.
"I wasn't frustrated by what they did," Ben Wallace said. "It was frustrating the way we were playing. We were pounding the ball down to Sheed (Rasheed Wallace) in the post early, then we went away from it. We tried to do it the hard way. We got stagnant, man. Sheed was going, we should have rode that all the way."
It wasn't just a coincidence that the Bucks started to get hot the minute Ben Wallace went out of the game because of two fouls. The Pistons had a 17-11 lead. When Ben Wallace went to the bench, the Bucks went on a 12-2 run and really never looked back.
"I think that took his aggressiveness away and it also took our team's defensive intensity away," Saunders said.
Then what happened, we fell behind and started to try and make big plays instead of doing what we usually do and grind our way back. We tried to go for the home runs and we played out of character."
Chauncey Billups had 26 points. Rasheed Wallace added 18, but 11 of those came in the first quarter. Richard Hamilton (4 of 14) and Tayshaun Prince (2 of 7) combined for 16 points on 6-of-21 shooting from the field.
The Pistons committed 11 turnovers and had just 13 fast-break points. They averaged 24.5 over the first two games.
"It's simple," Billups said. "Our defense wasn't what it normally always is. They got cooking, for sure, but we helped that. We gave them too many shots in their sweet spots and it was like a snowball effect. They just kept going and going. Give them credit. They came to play."
The Pistons did all the things they said they couldn't do and be successful on the road. They committed too many turnovers. They took long shots early in the shot clock. They allowed some easy baskets which excited the crowd and they allowed the Bucks to feel good about themselves.
Then, instead of slowing things down and trying to establish some kind of order, the Pistons appeared to get antsy, firing up quick, ill-advised shots, which only further fueled the Bucks' attack.
"Long jump shots lead to long rebounds and those lead to their fast-break points," Ben Wallace said. "We have to get back to playing our game, forcing them to defend all five of our players."
The Bucks took control for good in the second quarter. Williams, whose status was questionable because of a sore left foot, heated up in a big way in the second, hitting six shots in a row and scoring a fast 13 points.
Toni Kukoc, making his first appearance of the series, seemed to stabilize the Bucks on the floor. He scored seven of his 10 points in the second quarter and had four of his six assists.
"Toni was big for us," coach Terry Stotts said. "I thought he was very effective passing the ball and it was infectious."
The Pistons fell behind by as many as 26 points and could get no closer than 14.
"We just have to do what we do," Billups said. "We have to come out and play defense and make them play defense. We will be fine."
It is what it is -- Bruce Bowen
When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks.-- Bill Walton
[pistonplayer]All I can say is that we ain't gettin respect! Milwaukee beat us by 20?? Don't they know who we are? We're not getting respect! We lost a game - EVERYBODY'S against us!![/pistonplayer]
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I wouldn't be shocked either - but then many will say the same about SA in game 4. At the end of it got to get on the floor and DO IT.
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