Giannis Antetokounmpo has 30 points, Bucks rout Pistons

DETROIT (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 131-101 on Friday night.

“I knew I had to be aggressive and play downhill tonight,” Antetokounmpo said. “Even when we had a big lead, I kept going, because this is the time of year when good habits develop. Now is not the time to cheat at the game.”

Averaging 29.9 points, Antetokounmpo needs 35 points or more on Sunday in Cleveland’s season finale to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Milwaukee players to average 30 points in a season.

“What’s huge for us is Giannis scoring all his points without getting knocked out on double teams,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “When he sees an opportunity to find an open teammate, he makes the right play. Not all great scorers have that mentality.”

Brook Lopez added 17 points and Khris Middleton had 15. The defending champion Bucks led by 32 points en route to their third straight win. They improved to 51-30.

“It’s a well-oiled machine and they’re playing like a champion team,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s one of the first suckers we’ve played since the All-Star Game, but they make you pay for every mistake you make.”

Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 26 points for Detroit. Saddiq Bey (20) and Cade Cunningham (14) were the only starters to reach double figures.

“It’s fun to play the game and get a chance to keep playing the game,” McGruder said. “I know I won’t get 24 minutes very often, and the circumstances weren’t good, but I made sure to take advantage.”

The Pistons missed 15 of their first 16 field goal attempts, falling behind 23-4. Detroit finished with an NBA season-low eight points in the first quarter, falling behind by 22.

Milwaukee’s defense wasn’t as sharp in the second quarter, but the Bucks still led 56-38 at the half despite only making 41.2% of their shots.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) hits Detroit Pistons shooting guard Frank Jackson (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Friday, April 8, 2022.

“That’s a talented team that beat us earlier in the season, so we knew we had to take them seriously,” Bucks guard Wesley Matthews said. “We went out there and locked ourselves in right away, which is great to see in the second half of a back-to-back game.”

The Bucks moved the margin to 31, 76-44, on Antetokounmpo’s three-point play midway through the third quarter, and only McGruder’s running night kept the Pistons from being humiliated.

Milwaukee’s George Hill left the game with back spasms after scoring 10 points in 16 minutes.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but right now he’s very sore,” Budenholzer said.

INS COUNCIL

Bucks: Milwaukee improved to 13-1 against the Pistons under Budenholzer. The only blemish was Detroit’s 115-105 victory at Milwaukee on Jan. 3 … Antetokounmpo reached 2,000 points for the second time in his career. He needs 13 points in the final to break his current career high of 2,014, set in 2017-18.

Pistons: Detroit’s loss guarantees it will end with fewer than 25 wins for the third straight season, the longest streak in franchise history.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Bucks: In Cleveland on Sunday.

Pistons: In Philadelphia on Sunday.

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