Milwaukee 'Big Three' too strong for Pistons

MILWAUKEE • Start Luke Kennard. Check.

Play with more energy and force. Check.

Limit turnovers. (Mostly) check.

But, without their best player, the Detroit Pistons did not have a chance against top seeds Milwaukee Bucks.

After the visitors took a one-point half-time lead, the home team quickly regained control in the third quarter en route to a 120-99 victory on Wednesday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball Association first-round play-off series.

With Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin missing his second post-season game with a sore left knee, the Bucks' "Big Three" of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton combined for 77 points on 29-for-52 shooting.

All-Star forward Antetokounmpo, the Most Valuable Player front runner with James Harden of the Houston Rockets, finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Surprisingly, he scored only 10 points in the first half, but Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer had an inkling "he was going to do something to change it".

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    Detriot Pistons' play-off losing streak, second only to the New York Knicks' worst run of 13.

Antetokounmpo also told ESPN: "It is about will. I knew they were going to put guys in the paint, crowd me. I just tried to have patience.

"Eric told me, 'Be aggressive, it is going to come'. That is what I tried to do."

Bledsoe led all scorers with 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, while fellow guard Middleton had 24 points.

The Bucks, who are trying to win a post-season series for the first time since 2001, will now head to Detroit for Game 3 tomorrow.

The eighth-seeded Pistons, who were paced by 19 points from Kennard, are on a 12-game play-off losing streak dating back to 2008 - the second-worst run after the New York Knicks, who had 13 consecutive defeats from 2001-12.

In Boston, Jayson Tatum buried a go-ahead three-pointer with 50.8 seconds remaining as the Celtics overcame Indiana Pacers 99-91 in Game 2 to go 2-0 up.

Pacers will host Game 3 in Indianapolis today.

DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2019, with the headline 'Milwaukee 'Big Three' too strong for Pistons'. Print Edition | Subscribe