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Iverson comes off bench to lead Pistons over Bucks

Nov 29, 2008 - 5:17 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- By the second quarter Friday, the controversy surrounding Allen Iverson was officially over. With punishment handed out in the form of a fine and a one-night demotion to the bench, the Detroit Pistons could concentrate solely on beating the Milwaukee Bucks.

Iverson was instrumental in helping them do just that, scoring the go-ahead bucket in the first quarter and finishing with 17 points and seven assists to lead Detroit to a 107-97 triumph.

The All-Star guard missed practice on Thursday, much to the chagrin of head coach Michael Curry. The organization handed down a "hefty" fine, according to Curry, and Iverson was held out of the starting lineup. But once he took the court late in the first quarter, it was business as usual.

"I thought, of course, he would come in and want to play well, he wants to do well and he will," Curry said. "We want him to be aggressive, he was aggressive. We knew he would make some shots, he might have pressed a little bit, but as long as he stays aggressive, as long as we continue to get defensive stops, the offense will work itself out."

After entering the game at the 2:20 mark, Iverson drove to the lane for a layup 30 seconds later, snapping a tie and giving the Pistons a 24-22 lead that they would not relinquish. Detroit built its lead to as high as 15 in the first half and held on down the stretch - thanks in large part to Iverson.

"All the hoopla around everything, all the attention it got. I just wanted to do what ... especially just for my teammates because obviously I let them down by not being here. I wanted to make up for that with my play," Iverson said. "My whole game was just not losing the basketball game, that's what my concern mainly was. I was hoping that it wouldn't be a distraction to my teammates and carry over into the game."

The Bucks cut their deficit to 82-76 early in the fourth, but Iverson scored the Pistons' next six points on three long jumpers to push the lead to 88-79. From then on, he created for his teammates - the same teammates to whom he apologized on Friday for missing practice - to seal the win. He found Arron Afflalo for a dunk to extend the lead to double digits, then drove into the paint and kicked out to Walter Herrmann on the perimeter for three 3-pointers in a two-minute span to make it a 100-85 ballgame.

"It was just a different feeling as far as my rhythm. Obviously I'm used to starting basketball games," Iverson said. "It was just different for me. I was trying too hard and, being everything that went on, I wanted to play well and I think I was just trying too hard. The second half, I just settled down and just played my game, tried to create for my teammates and if they took that away, try to create for myself."

Six players reached double figures for the Pistons, with Herrmann dropping in 16 points - including five 3-pointers. Jason Maxiell came off the bench to collect 13 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

The game was the second impressive offensive effort in a row for the Pistons, who stumbled through a recent two-game losing streak during which they scored 80 points in each contest. But over the last two games, they have posted their two biggest scoring outputs since acquiring Iverson at the beginning of the month.

They pounded the New York Knicks, 110-96, on Wednesday before laying down 107 points against the Bucks. It would have been even more were it not for 12 missed free throws. They also hit 8-of-16 from 3-point range.

"For whatever reason, particularly in the last three games, we've lost a bit of our will to defend," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "I'm having a hard time finding lineups that are willing to go out there and try and defend. We've got to find a way to get it back; otherwise we won't win."

Stuckey made his third start of the season - the first two coming in the immediate aftermath of the trade that sent Chauncey Billups to Denver and brought Iverson to Motown. The 22-year-old point guard posted 12 points, five assists and four steals in 23 minutes for the Pistons.

"I thought Stuckey pushed, he attacked, he took care of the basketball," Curry said. "He had five assists to one turnover but he easily could have had eight assists to one turnover. I thought Stuckey was really good tonight."

Richard Hamilton chipped in with 12 for the Pistons, but shot just 4-of-11 from the floor.

Milwaukee played its 14th straight game without All-Star guard Michael Redd, who is still sidelined by a sprained right ankle. The Bucks were led by Richard Jefferson and Ramon Sessions, who scored 21 points apiece.

Andrew Bogut was out with a bruised left knee. His replacement, Dan Gadzuric collected 10 points and 12 boards but shot just 3-for-12.

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