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

4/24/2004

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.