MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's starting five was stuck in neutral Wednesday night.
Meanwhile the Detroit Pistons revved their engines and rode the performances of big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe to a 105-98 victory over the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
This was supposed to be about Brandon Jennings' first appearance in Milwaukee since the July 31 trade that sent him to Detroit.
Jennings said he was a bit nervous and he shot poorly (4 of 16), but it hardly mattered with Drummond and Monroe overpowering the Bucks interior.
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound Drummond finished with 24 points and tied a season-high with 19 rebounds while the 6-11, 250-pound Monroe added 18 points and 17 rebounds for Detroit (9-10).
"Those guys are a load down there and we just physically could not overcome that," Bucks coach Larry Drew said.
Bucks point guard Brandon Knight played with Drummond and Monroe in Detroit and knew what troubles they would pose.
"Just for our personnel, when those guys are rolling to the basket and crashing the offensive boards, it's tough," Knight said. "You've got to man up some.
"But for the bigs we have, there's only so much those guys can do."
The Bucks starting unit managed just 23 points in the first three quarters.
Even when the Bucks reserves bailed them out with a sterling first-half performance to give Milwaukee a 50-45 halftime lead, the starters quickly gave away the lead in the third quarter.
Drew went back to his bench but by then Detroit had built a 62-54 lead with 6 minutes 31 seconds left in the period.
"The starters didn't have a lot in the tank at the very beginning and I sensed it," Drew said. "I rode those (bench) guys the rest of the half because I thought they did have some energy for us.
"I still felt we were in pretty good shape after that first half. We didn't get off to a good start in the third quarter and again the starters just didn't have the energy.
"Detroit is a tough team to match up against because we give up size and weight at that 5 and 4 position. And Josh Smith is 6-10 at the 3 spot. He's a load as well."
Forward Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks (3-15) with season highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds in 37 minutes off the bench.
Point guard Luke Ridnour also played well in a reserve role with 10 points, eight assists and three steals.
The others in the reserve group were rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, who played 28 minutes (six points, six rebounds) and Gary Neal. Backup center Zaza Pachulia was limited to 6 minutes after suffering a sprained right foot.
"It was kind of the first time I felt healthy," said Ilyasova, who has been battling ankle, hamstring and thumb injuries. "My ankle just got better.
"It's kind of our schedule right now. We've got a lot of back-to-backs. We've got eight games in 12 days. You have to stay on top of it."
The Pistons dominated the rebounding battle, 55-43, and had 21 offensive rebounds, leading to 22 second-chance points.
Both teams were playing the second of back-to-back sets and had to make travel adjustments due to foggy weather in Milwaukee.
"The first half was tough for us," said Drummond, who had 18 rebounds in a Detroit victory in Miami on Tuesday. "We felt fatigue a little bit.
"We had a long night before, but we can't let that be an excuse for us. We came out the next half and played like we're supposed to play."
Drummond moved into second place in the league in rebounding at 12.9 per game.
"I think in the future we've just got to do a better job of everybody getting down there and manning up," Knight said. "That's what it's going to take.
"We're not going to grow bigger in a matter of months. Our heart is going to have to get bigger."
Jennings finished with 17 points and 11 assists in 42 minutes and heard some boos early in the game.
The Bucks did make a late run after trailing by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer by O.J. Mayo brought the Bucks within 96-90 and Drew ordered the Bucks to intentionally foul Drummond on Detroit's next two trips.
But Drummond made his first two free throws (and missed the second two). Jennings later hit a pair of foul shots and found Smith with a long outlet pass for a layup and a 102-93 Pistons lead with 55.9 seconds left.
"All you can do is keep playing and hope for it to turn around," said Bucks center John Henson. "We kind of have to play a solid game for four quarters, can't really make mistakes to win games."
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