Sat. Final: Pistons 126, Bucks 121, OT
By Todd Welter
Next game: Monday, February 9 vs. Houston
It has been nothing but bad news lately for the Milwaukee Bucks and Richard Hamilton added another piece of bad news to Milwaukee's laundry list of bad fortune. Hamilton scored a season-high 38 points to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 126-121 overtime victory at the Bradley Center.
"Now that I'm coming off the bench I don't have time to get warmed up," Hamilton said. "I have to come in on fire every time."
Hamilton was on fire in hurry as he scored 20 points in the second half. He scored the most points ever for a reserve in franchise history. Helping add to the Bucks' misery was Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey each contributing 27 points.
Times have been tough for the Bucks the last two weeks. First, Michael Redd was lost for the season with a knee injury that left a big scoring void in the lineup. Then news came this week that center Andrew Bogut would miss two months with a stress fracture in his lower back. Another man went down after Luke Ridnour broke his hand in practice minutes after Milwaukee traded backup point guard Tyronn Lue to the Orlando Magic on Thursday. Sandwich in last Tuesday's loss to the New Jersey Nets that pushed the Bucks out of place holding the final playoff spot and it almost seems like bad luck is always around the corner.
Despite the constant dark clouds hovering over the Bucks, they did not go down without a fight. Nobody fought harder than Ramon Sessions as he registered a career-high 44 points along with 12 assists.
"Those points and those assists didn't really mean much because we didn't get the win," Sessions said.
Sessions did put on a show as he got to the rim with ease thanks to the effective use of pick and roll sets.
"They really didn't have an answer for him tonight on the pick and roll," teammate Charlie Bell observed. "He pretty much got to the basket. It was like a layup drill out there."
Charlie Villanueva helped out Sessions with 33 points before fouling out in overtime. Sessions and Villanueva have certainly stepped up to the challenge to fill the scoring void left by Redd's injury. Villanueva has averaged 21.6 points in the six games since Redd was lost for the year while Sessions has averaged 20.8 points during that same stretch.
"We're not going to give in and we're not going to throw away the season just because we are missing key players," Villanueva said. "We're going to fight. Every game we are going to fight and see where we stand."
The Bucks got off to a sluggish start as they shot 39.5% in the first half. The Pistons built up a 13-point lead early in the second quarter and led 54-45 at the end of the half.
The Bucks came alive in the third quarter as they shot 55% in the quarter and rallied to take the lead with 3:50 left on the clock. The Bucks ended the quarter with a 82-79 lead.
Hamilton tied the game at 85 on a couple of free throws with 10:19 left but the Bucks grabbed the lead right back. Milwaukee enjoyed the lead most of the quarter but really could not get much separation. That was until Sessions completed an old fashioned three-point play with 3:46 left that put the Bucks up six.
The Pistons would not go into the night without a fight as Hamilton cut the Bucks' lead down to one with a long jumper with 54 seconds left. Hamilton then buried a jumper with 26 seconds left that gave the Pistons a slim 109-108 lead.
Sessions got the better of Hamilton the next possession as Sessions drove the lane and picked up a foul on Hamilton. Sessions missed the first free throw but made the second to tie the game with 21 seconds left. The Pistons blew their chance to win the game as Iverson committed an offensive foul giving the Bucks a shot at the win. The Bucks blew their chance with a turnover but survived to see overtime as Hamilton's possible game winning shot rimmed out.
Overtime came down to who could get a string of consistent stops first. No team does that better than the Pistons. Iverson knocked down a jumper with 28 seconds left that put Detroit ahead and then the Pistons defense stopped the Bucks two comeback attempts to end the game.
The Bucks drop to 24-29 and will host the Houston Rockets on Monday night.