AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 23 (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons weren't about to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks. But they may have lost Richard Hamilton.

Hamilton suffered a left ankle injury in the fourth quarter, when the Pistons regrouped and pulled away for a 92-74 victory over the Bucks in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

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Rasheed Wallace scored 22 points and Ben Wallace swept 17 rebounds for the top-seeded Pistons, who smothered Bucks All-Star guard Michael Redd and wasted no time asserting themselves in what appears to be a mismatch.

The Pistons won the title in 2004 and were five minutes away from repeating last year. One of the reasons for their success has been their ability to avoid a major injury. In winning a franchise-record 64 games this season, they set a league mark by using the same starting lineup for the first 73 games.

But in the fourth quarter, Hamilton stepped on Bucks forward Andrew Bogut's foot and twisted his left ankle. Pistons coach Flip Saunders called a timeout seconds later, but Hamilton stayed in the game.

At that point, Milwaukee had used a 19-4 surge capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Charlie Bell to close to 68-64 with 9 1/2 minutes to go. Detroit responded with 11 straight points that included a pull-up jumper by Hamilton to re-establish control for good.

"It seemed like when they wanted to turn up their defensive pressure, they did," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "They challenged a lot of our shots, but during that stretch on the offensive end, we had three or four opportunities that didn't go, and they ran the other way with it. The lead went from four to 12 pretty quickly."

Hamilton began limping noticeably and sat down for good at the 5:36 mark. He scored 21 points and was the primary defender on Redd, who was limited to 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

"It's sore," Hamilton said after limping from the training room more than an hour after the game ended. "But that's what we have Arnie (strength coach Arnie Kander) for. We'll see how it feels (Monday).

"I mentioned to Tay (Tayshaun Prince) that when we first saw the schedule we didn't like that it was all spread out. Now I'm glad it is a couple of days between games."

It is hard to minimize Hamilton's effect on the Pistons. The All-Star shooting guard disrupts defenses by scooting around screens to create open shots for himself and his teammates. In 66 career playoff games, he has scored at least 20 points 51 times.

Hamilton also is earning respect as a defender, as his work on Redd attested.

"I sacrificed my offense," said Hamilton, who made just 5-of-18 shots. "I told myself that I didn't care if I missed every shot, as long as (Redd) missed every one, too. I just tried to make it tough on him every time he got the ball. We know he's a big scorer."

Saunders said that containing Redd, who averaged 30 points in the four regular-season games against Detroit, was a priority.

"He's one of the most explosive scorers in our league and I thought we did a pretty good job on him team-wise," Saunders said. "Rip did a good job of understanding where help might be. He tried to send him to as much help as he could and he contested most of his shots."

"I knew it was going to happen," Redd said. "They did a great job having two or three guys around me all night. It was very difficult to get a shot off. They were just concentrating on shutting me down. We have to make adjustments. It's totally different than the regular season."

Prince scored 15 points and Chauncey Billups added 14 for the Pistons, who shot 34 free throws to 10 for the Bucks.

"It's hard to win when they shoot that many more free throws," Stotts said. "All season, the Pistons have shot a lot of free throws. That's one of their strengths."

Bell scored 13 points, Jamaal Magloire added 11 and Bogut 10 for Milwaukee, which did not have a scorer in double figures until the fourth quarter.

The Bucks, who were eliminated by the Pistons in five games in their last postseason appearance in 2004, will try again here Wednesday.

"I thought we played well in stretches," Stotts said. "We've played this team well before. The one thing we have to do is execute better."

Milwaukee bolted to a surprising 9-2 lead but went scoreless in the last 3:43 of the first half, falling into a 43-37 hole as Rasheed Wallace scored 17 points. Prince and Billups drained 3-pointers to help build the lead to 64-45 before the Bucks rallied.