Bucks top Pistons, 113-97
Milwaukee is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, trailing the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers by two games in the race for the playoffs.
The Bucks led 52-47 after two quarters but pushed the lead to double digits early in the second half and eventually led by 20. The Pistons fought back to get within 12 after three, but Milwaukee maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the final quarter.
Brandon Jennings had 20 points and 10 assists for Milwaukee, which had all five starters score in double figures.
Brandon Knight scored 25 points for the Pistons, and Ben Gordon added 24.
After two straight losses, including a crucial one at home to the Knicks on Wednesday, Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said matter-of-factly before Friday’s game that the Bucks needed to win out. His team got off to a nice start, hounding the Pistons with pressure defense and taking control well before the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee has seven games remaining, including one against the 76ers.
The Pistons led 16-11 early, but the Bucks seemed to get a hand on every Detroit pass for a brief stretch. Carlos Delfino stole the ball and dunked at the other end to put Milwaukee up 17-16. Moments later, Gooden added a steal of his own that led to a dunk by Monta Ellis.
The Pistons turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, but they managed to stay in the game until the third. Gooden’s shot from the perimeter gave the Bucks a 61-51 lead, and Ersan Ilyasova added a 3-pointer to make it 72-56.
It was 83-63 after a 3-pointer by Mike Dunleavy. Detroit then went on an 8-0 run, but that was the only major push from the Pistons.
Ellis scored 18 points and Delfino had 16. Ilyasova contributed 14.
Milwaukee had 36 assists and only eight turnovers. Gooden had eight assists and Ellis added seven.
Greg Monroe had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons.
NOTES: Milwaukee went 14 of 25 from the field in the third quarter, including four 3-pointers. New York beat Washington 103-65, but Philadelphia lost to New Jersey 95-89 to fall a game closer to Milwaukee. Gooden finished 12 of 18 from the field.