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Basketball / Sports

Be it '50-50 balls' or complacency, Pistons let Bucks off the hook

MILWAUKEE -- Say what you want about Brandon Jennings, he gives truthful answers.

Take the Pistons' latest embarrassment -- Wednesday night's 104-101 loss to the Bucks.

The Bucks (8-33) had lost nine straight and aren't even trying to be competitive this season, as they are in a full-blown youth movement.

The Pistons have lost to the three worst teams in the league (the Bucks, Magic and Jazz). And at 17-25 and struggling to stay afloat in the woeful East, they can't afford to take anybody lightly.

Yet there was Jennings saying the Pistons did exactly that when they took a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter.

"Yeah, I think so," Jennings said. "I think we got a little comfortable, but that can't happen. At the end of the day, no matter their record, that's still an NBA team over there."

You can take teams lightly when you're the Miami Heat, not when you have lost nine of 12 and face a fifth straight year of not making the postseason.

Jennings scored 30 points in his return to Milwaukee, but it's becoming readily apparent that Joe Dumars' massive roster overhaul in the off-season isn't working.

While Jennings was trying to offer reasons, coach Maurice Cheeks wanted to keep talking about the 50-50 balls the Bucks won. He mentioned the term eight times in his 4-minute postgame media session.

"I thought it was a couple of 50-50 balls we didn't get to," Cheeks said. "I think right toward the end of third, Caron Butler hit a deep three, and I think that's one of the reasons they got back in the game because they converted a lot of 50-50 balls ..."

Butler's triple cut the lead to 85-81 with 1.3 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Pistons shot 21.1% in the fourth quarter. They had a chance to tie late, but the Bucks fouled Josh Smith with 1.4 seconds left, leading, 104-101, and Rodney Stuckey (23 points) missed a contested corner three-pointer.

Butler scored 30 points off the bench for the Bucks, and Brandon Knight scored 16 points against his former team.

After admitting he was thinking too much on the floor recently, Jennings had a smoking first half.

Averaging only 11.1 points in his prior 10 games, Jennings nearly doubled that in the first half with 20 points.

He was 8-for-14 from the field and 2-for-4 from three-point land. And the Pistons entered halftime with a 56-50 lead when they stole a Bucks half-court in-bounds pass and Stuckey found Jennings for a triple from the wing moments before the halftime buzzer.

Greg Monroe scored 10 points in the first quarter, 12 in the first half. He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Andre Drummond had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

(c)2014 Detroit Free Press

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