After a ferocious comeback by the home team in front of a raucous crowd, the Milwaukee Bucks were as high as the Detroit Pistons were low.
Sam Cassell scored 28 points as the Bucks stormed back from a 17-point deficit and remained the Eastern Conference's only unbeaten team with a 121-111 victory over the winless Pistons on Saturday night.
After impressive road wins over Houston and Atlanta to open the season, Milwaukee won its third straight behind a blistering 18-3 run. The Bucks trailed 83-66 with 5:43 left in the third quarter before cutting Detroit's lead to 86-84 entering the fourth, and Milwaukee quickly jumped ahead and cruised to the win.
"We got rolling, and the crowd got behind us, and that was it," Cassell said. "People are realizing that this team can score a lot of points in a hurry."
"The crowd had a little attitude tonight," coach George Karl said. "They were really involved in the game. It was fantastic."
Glenn Robinson, hampered by foul trouble in the first half, scored seven points during the run and finished with 15. Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 7:16 to play gave Milwaukee a 97-94 lead, its first since the first quarter.
Cassell, who was 10-of-16 from the field and had eight assists, then hit consecutive jumpers, and Allen, who had 26 points, added two more 3-pointers.
Jerry Stackhouse had 20 points for Detroit, which had six layers in double figures but couldn't execute in the clutch. After controlling play for the game's first 30 minutes, the Pistons became tentative and fell to 0-4.
Stackhouse's frustration showed with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter, when he became entangled with Cassell and fell out of bounds. When referee Dee Kantner gave possession to Milwaukee, Stackhouse flung the ball directly at Kantner, who ejected him.
"That whole situation was just weak," Stackhouse said. "If it was any other official, that wouldn't have happened. ... Before she could catch the ball, she was giving me two T's to get me out of the game."
Pistons coach Alvin Gentry wasn't as quick to condemn Kantner.
"Dee is a good official. It was just a judgment call she made," Gentry said. "The fact is, we played well for three quarters, and when we stopped doing what got us there, we got frustrated."
The Pistons looked incredibly dejected in their locker room. Grant Hill, who was 4-of-12 in the second half and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, refused to speak to the media.
Cassell and Stackhouse trash-talked each other all game before Stackhouse's ejection. In addition, when Kantner turned her head late in the second quarter, Stackhouse slapped the side of Cassell's head, drawing the ire of the Bradley Center crowd.
Afterward, Cassell said it was all in fun.
"That's my boy," he said. "If he was here now, I'd give him a hug. He could probably use a hug right now."
Robinson and Allen each got three quick fouls in the first half, and though Cassell kept the Bucks close, Detroit went up 63-53 at halftime on Stackhouse's 14 points. Allen and Cassell spent the rest of the game in foul trouble, but didn't foul out.
Christian Laettner had 18 points for Detroit, including the first eight of the first quarter, while Dale Ellis had 13 for the Bucks.
Former Bucks forward Michael Curry, who left the team during the summer for a free-agent deal with the Pistons, was booed when he entered the game late in the first quarter and every time he scored thereafter.
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