Bucks get back to team basketball in dismantling of Detroit
MILWAUKEE — It appears as if losing to the Utah Jazz at home served as a wakeup call for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee’s struggling offense broke out Saturday, as the Bucks scored 91 points through three quarters in a 101-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons in front of 16,388 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
It was exactly the type of dominant home performance the Bucks needed before beginning a three-game road trip Sunday at San Antonio.
"I think we got back to playing Bucks basketball and sharing it, completing the passes and once the passes were completed, completing the play," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "(We were) able to make the extra pass, passing up a good shot to get a better shot. We talked about that the last couple days.
"I thought for three quarters the pace was good. That fourth quarter was awful."
Sparked by three consecutive 3-pointers from O.J. Mayo, the Bucks used an 18-2 run to take control of the game at 54-40 with 4:33 left in the first half. After scoring a season-high 40 points in the second quarter, Milwaukee began the second half on a 20-4 spurt to go up by 30 points, at 83-53. It was an impressive display of ball movement, as the Bucks passed up shots to get better looks at the basket.
The Bucks set a season high with 33 assists, including a stretch of 27 assists on 28 made field goals in the second half.
"We were giving the ball up early and guys were looking for each other," Bucks guard Jared Dudley said. "Sometimes it takes a couple of losses and guys look each other in the face and see what they can do more and better. That’s how we have to play to be successful.
"We have to be a little like Atlanta Hawks-ish, where you don’t have a go-to guy; the ball has to move and we have to play each other."
Several Bucks pointed to an eye-opening film session following Thursday’s 101-99 home loss to Utah as a major reason for getting back to playing team basketball Saturday.
Milwaukee entered having not scored 100 points in regulation since Dec. 26, a span of 12 games. It took a Mayo jumper late in the fourth quarter to get over the century mark Saturday, but that was because the Bucks took their foot off the gas pedal after the third quarter.
"We had a pretty crucial film session after the Utah game; we were able to see some of the small mistakes that we were making as a team," Mayo said. "As a young team we want to continue getting better.
"We kind of felt like we’re on a high horse because we’re in playoff position now, but it’s half of the season. You’ve got to continue playing the right way, playing hard and closing out the season well."
Five Bucks scored in double digits Saturday, led by Mayo with 20. Khris Middleton (16 points) and Brandon Knight (14 points) combined for 30 points against their former team, while Dudley and John Henson each scored 12 points off the bench.
Middleton, Knight, Dudley and Mayo hit 10 of their 13 attempts from distance, as Milwaukee shot 64.7 percent as a team from beyond the arc.
"Guys turned down a good shot to get a better shot for a teammate," Kidd said. "Make or miss that’s what good teams do, so that’s the way we’ve been playing when we win and tonight was a perfect example of that."
Having lost six of seven at the Bradley Center, the Bucks were in desperate need of salvaging the final game of what was a disappointing three-game homestand.
The Pistons came in winners of 12 of their last 15 games, including winning seven of their last eight on the road. Detroit has been a different team since parting ways with Josh Smith and had a chance to move to within 3 1/2 games of the Bucks in the Eastern conference standings with a win Saturday.
Instead, Milwaukee finally put together a dominating home performance.
"They played a lot harder than us tonight, and they played a lot better together," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "They had 33 assists. They obviously made all their shots, but their ball movement was tremendous.
"We weren’t ready to play at all. We couldn’t match their intensity and we didn’t play together the way they did."
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