The Detroit Pistons fans are starting to learn their lesson.
No matter how big the Pistons lead may be stick around, there'll be some excitement at the finish.
Friday, Detroit led by as many as 23 points against the Milwaukee Bucks, but had to hang on for dear life to pull out a 90-85 victory.
"They are a great team, and we held them to 28 percent shooting in the first half," said Piston coach Alvin Gentry. "We knew that they were going to start making shots at some point, and that we were going to have to hold on."
The win avenged a 115-86 loss in Milwaukee on Monday.
"I really wouldn't call the first half a message," said Bison Dele. "But we wanted to tell them that they got us in Milwaukee, but there's a flip side to every coin."
Detroit has won three of four, while the Bucks have just one win in their last four.
"Obviously, at this point of this season, every game is vital," said Lindsey Hunter. "We needed to keep our poise, and not turn this into some kind of revenge game."
Jerry Stackhouse led all scorers with a season-high 34 points. Grant Hill and Dele added 11 points each for Detroit, while Ray Allen led the Bucks with 29.
"Jerry was just tremendous out there," Gentry said. "Not just by scoring 34 points, but by playing so hard on defense."
Detroit led by as many as 23 points on its way to a 53-41 halftime lead. The first quarter was almost the exact opposite of Monday's meeting, where the Bucks shot 17-of-20 to lead 40-14 after 12 minutes. This time, they hit just 3 of 15 shots, and trailed 29-17.
"We knew they were going to be fired up after Monday," Allen said. "They came out playing well in the first quarter and we kind of sat back and let them play well. We just accepted it and didn't become the enforcers."
he Pistons expanded the margin to 16, 60-44, early in the third. Milwaukee was never able to make a serious run, and still trailed 71-57 at the end of the period.
Milwaukee got two Dell Curry 3-pointers as part of a 8-3 run early in the fourth, but weren't able to get Detroit's lead to single digits until 4:19 remained.
The Bucks had the ball, trailing 83-77, with 2:30 to play when Chris Gatling was called for tripping Dele well behind the play. Hill dunked on the ensuing possession, but that wasn't enough to kill off the Bucks.
Gatling had also been called for a first-half technical after shoving Dele.
"I don't know what was up with him tonight," Dele said. "I guess hitting a couple shots on him antagonized him."
Allen and Curry got the Bucks within three twice in the last minute, but were never able to get the needed defensive stop.
"We fought back and got ourselves into the game again, but Detroit made some plays," said Bucks coach George Karl. "And we had a couple steals where we turned it back over. That broke our heart."
Notes: The Pistons honored Joe Dumars at halftime as part of their season-long tribute to the 1988-89 "Bad Boys" championship team. Dumars, currently on the injured list with a strained calf, is the only player from that team still with Detroit. ... Milwaukee held Detroit without a field goal for the final 8:32 of the first half, and still trailed by 12 at intermission. ... Milwaukee picked up four technical fouls during one timeout with 2:51 left in the third. Scott Williams picked up two and was ejected, while coach George Karl and Haywoode Workman got one each while arguing a no-foul call on Grant Hill. The Bucks had six technicals in the game.
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