The Milwaukee Bucks earned one of their most noteworthy victories of the season in their latest game, but it wasn’t enough to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The eliminated Bucks now turn their focus toward ending a difficult campaign on a positive note, beginning Friday night against the Detroit Pistons.
Milwaukee (32-46) outscored Miami 25-15 in the first quarter and held the Southeast Division champions to 40.5 percent shooting in a 90-85 road victory Wednesday. The Bucks, though, were officially ousted from playoff contention during that game with Indiana’s win over Washington.
“You don’t want to take anything away from (the win over Miami),” coach Scott Skiles said. “The reality is that we got eliminated.”
The Bucks, who ended a three-year playoff drought last season, were done in by a 12-27 road record but have split their last six games away from home.
They continue to play good defense, holding four straight opponents this month under 90 points and the last three to a combined 39.9 percent shooting.
Skiles surely hopes his team, which has alternated wins and losses in its last five games, fares better after its elimination than Detroit (27-51) did.
The Pistons suffered back-to-back losses after a 101-96 defeat to Chicago on April 1 officially ended their postseason hopes. However, they snapped a four-game skid with a 116-109 win over New Jersey on Wednesday, just their second victory in nine games.
Rodney Stuckey had 22 points and 10 assists after being benched for two games. He didn’t start but played all of the second half and had 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“I’m still a young player,” the 24-year-old Stuckey said. “I’m really passionate about this game. I let my emotions get in the way, I got punished, and it’s over.”
Richard Hamilton, who clashed with coach John Kuester earlier this season, led the way with 25 points and helped his team overcome another lackluster defensive performance. Detroit has given up at least 100 points in five straight games and 20 of 27.
“(Hamilton has) been playing so hard, and it’s amazing what you can accomplish when your heart’s in the right place,” Kuester said.
Stuckey has averaged 18.6 points – 5.2 above his career mark – in his last five games against the Pistons.
He scored 25 in the teams’ most recent meeting, but the Bucks beat them for the first time in three tries this season with a 92-90 victory behind Brandon Jennings’ 21 points.
Jennings has failed to score in double figures in each of the past two games after averaging 22.3 points over his previous six.
Detroit has won five of seven at home.
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