Jefferson, Bucks hold off reeling PistonsFeb 18, 2009 - 4:43 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The second half began the same way the first half ended for the Detroit Pistons - with a loss.
The Pistons' recent struggles continued on Tuesday night as they dropped their fourth straight contest, a 92-86 setback to the shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee is still playing without the services of Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and Luke Ridnour, but has continued to persevere nonetheless.
"If you want to be a good, consistent club there isn't one formula every night," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "You have to find different ways to win. Some nights, the shots are going in and you look like a great offensive club. When they're not going in, you have to find a way to win a game - like we did tonight."
The Bucks took control early but finally began to wilt in the fourth quarter when the Pistons stormed back. Antonio McDyess scored seven points in an 11-0 run midway through the period, capping the run with a three-point play that cut the deficit to 80-79.
But Richard Jefferson answered with a three-point play of his own, plowing to the basket and finishing strong at the hoop while drawing contact from Detroit forward Jason Maxiell.
"We're not going to replace a Michael Redd or an Andrew Bogut or Luke Ridnour in the way he pushes the ball, so we have to depend on each other," Jefferson said. "Guys are passing the ball and hitting big shots."
McDyess added two more layups later in the quarter to pull Detroit back to within two at 88-86, but the Bucks finished things off at the foul line to keep the Pistons reeling.
"We didn't play with the level of intensity that we need to, especially in the first quarter," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "In the second half of the third quarter and in the fourth, we played the way we needed to play. We played with a sense of urgency and in attack mode."
Jefferson finished with 29 points, five boards and five assists for Milwaukee (27-29), which is now just two games behind Detroit (27-25) for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks have won three straight overall.
"We're looking at it as, 'Why stay in the spot that you're in? Why not try to move up in the playoffs? Why not try to get above .500?'" Jefferson said. "These are goals we've had all season, but because of injuries and inconsistencies we haven't been able to do it. We're a lot hungrier than we look on paper."
They jumped out of the gate in this one early on, going on a 9-2 run early in the first quarter behind a pair of long jumpers by Jefferson. They held a 12-point advantage through one and held it for the duration of the contest. The Pistons' only lead was 2-0 after McDyess' layup on the game's first possession.
McDyess led Detroit with a season-high 24 points and 14 boards, while the team's backcourt combo of Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey combined to hit 5-of-19. Richard Hamilton provided a lift off the bench with 22 points.
"We've got the message. Time is running out," Iverson said. "We have 30 games left and we've played nowhere near as good as we can play. We have spurts where we play well, but we have to put whole games together. For some reason, we're not doing that and it's unacceptable."
The Pistons' hopes of home-court advantage in the first round continue to dwindle, as they've slipped from fourth to seventh in the East. Then again, perhaps The Palace at Auburn Hills wouldn't be so accommodating. The Pistons have astonishingly lost seven of their last eight games at home, falling to 14-14 here on the season.
"It's a little different team. We have some new guys who are key for us and we look forward to them playing well, especially in this building," Curry said. "We moved our shootarounds over here (from the practice facility) to get guys more familiar with this building. We just aren't playing good basketball."
DETROIT 86 FINAL
Feb 17 9:57 PM
DETROIT 61 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 17 9:24 PM
DETROIT 37 HALFTIME
Feb 17 8:39 PM
DETROIT 17 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 17 8:08 PM
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