Detroit wins series 4-1 (Game 3 of 5)

Detroit wins series 4-1

Game 1: Sunday, April 18th
Game 2: Wednesday, April 21st
Game 3: Saturday, April 24th
Game 4: Monday, April 26th
Game 5: Thursday, April 29th

Pistons 95

(54-28, 23-18 away)

Bucks 85

(41-41, 27-14 home)

2:30 PM ET, April 24, 2004

BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

1 2 3 4 T
DET 22 20 32 2195
MIL 30 19 19 1785

Top Performers

Det: B. Wallace 13 Pts, 21 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

Mil: J. Smith 16 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

Bucks go 0-for-9 from field in final four minutes

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons took back control of their playoff series with Milwaukee the way they know best -- with defense.

Detroit, the first home team to lose a game in the playoffs this season, shut down Milwaukee over the final four minutes Saturday for a 95-85 win and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Pistons were expected to come out swinging after losing to Milwaukee on Wednesday. But they gave up 30 points in the first period and needed a 23-4 run at the start of the third period to take their first lead of the game.

Then the defense took over, holding Milwaukee to just a free throw over the final four minutes.

Detroit coach Larry Brown called the second half the Pistons' best defensive effort of the series, including the 108-82 beating they put on the Bucks in Game 1.

"The defense picked up and we started making shots," Brown said. "We dominated the boards, we gave them one shot, mostly jump shots. That was the key."

Game 4 is Monday in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee seemed ready to prove that its win in Game 2 wasn't a fluke.

The Bucks cut down on their turnovers, limited how many points the Pistons scored off their miscues and played more aggressively than Detroit in the first half.

Despite blowing a double-digit lead, the Bucks pulled within 85-84 on Joe Smith's dunk before Detroit employed its suffocating defense.

The Bucks then missed their final nine shots, with their only point down the stretch coming on a free throw by Desmond Mason with 2:53 left.

Detroit's Ben Wallace, limited by foul trouble in the first half, had 13 points and 21 rebounds. He had just two points and five boards in the first half. Chauncey Billups scored 21 points to lead Detroit.

The Bucks committed 45 turnovers that led to 49 points by the Pistons in the first two games of the series. But Milwaukee turned it over just seven times Saturday, leading to five Detroit points. They even turned things around on the Pistons, scoring 21 points off of their 18 turnovers.

The Bucks also refused to surrender the lane to Detroit, trailing the Pistons just 38-36 on points in the paint. They forced Wallace to the bench with two fouls a little more than three minutes into the game, and he didn't return until more than four minutes into the second period.

In his absence, the Bucks built a 12-point advantage and led 49-42 at the break.

Bucks coach Terry Porter said Milwaukee's offense stopped attacking the basket and hitting key shots down the stretch. But he didn't complain about being outrebounded 52-36, pointing out the Pistons had just nine offensive rebounds to the Buck's seven.

"It's just that third quarter," Porter said.

Having taken the Bucks' best punch in the first half, the Pistons delivered one of their own to start the second.

Billups started the game 1-for-5, but hit four straight shots in the third quarter. His 3-pointer sparked a 23-4 run that he punctuated by converting a three-point play.

The Bucks missed their first seven shots at the start of the second half and the Pistons shot 9-for-12 from the field coming out of the break and moved out to a 65-53 lead.

Milwaukee battled back. But after Smith's dunk, Toni Kukoc missed badly on a jumper, Brevin Knight's shot was blocked and the game slipped away.

Mason and Michael Redd each scored 19 points to lead Milwaukee.

"We had a good opportunity and let it slip away," Smith said. "We're all disappointed because we could've controlled our effort, but for some reason, we came out kind of lackadaisical in the third quarter." ^Notes:@ Bucks guard T.J. Ford, out since he bruised his spinal cord on Feb. 24, said his cervical spine surgery is scheduled for May 6. Ford, who has a history of back troubles, said he was relieved to finally make a decision on the surgery and expected to be back 100 percent next season. "Hopefully, I can play 10 to 15 years," he said. ... The Pistons had lost their last six Game 3s in the playoffs. Their last win in a Game 3 came in the 1999 playoffs. ... The Bucks scored 30 points in the first quarter, just the second time Detroit has given up that many points in a period since trading for Rasheed Wallace.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 95 85
FGM-FGA 33-72 (.458) 30-81 (.370)
3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 6-21 (.286)
FTM-FTA 24-33 (.727) 19-26 (.731)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-52 7-36
Assists 14 22
Turnovers 18 7
Steals 4 9
Blocks 10 6
Fast Break Points 2 9
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 28 (1/0)

Top Performers

Ben Wallace Wallace
Points: 13
Reb: 21
Ast: 1
Stl: 1
Blk: 3
Joe Smith Smith
Points: 16
Reb: 6
Ast: 0
Stl: 1
Blk: 5