The Milwaukee Bucks know that finishing off a home-and-home sweep of Detroit won't be easy.
The Bucks will try to keep the Pistons winless in the second half of the season as the teams meet Friday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Milwaukee (20-34) ended a four-game losing streak on Wednesday, beating Detroit 103-98 to open its second-half schedule. The Bucks, mired in last place in the Central Division, 19 games behind the first-place Pistons (39-15), also ended a five-game losing streak against Detroit.
They had dropped the first two meetings this season by an average of 35.5 points.
"We needed to win, for sure,'' Milwaukee coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We needed to get some of that taste out of our mouth. We had a rough stretch right before the break, it's tough to sit through a break having gone through that.''
Of course, the Bucks know the loss will only make the Pistons that much tougher to handle in the second game of the home-and-home series.
"They're going to remember this one,'' said Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 24th double-double of the season. "They're going to try to blow us out of their gym.''
The Pistons have dropped both of their games since the break, including a 103-85 home defeat against Orlando on Tuesday. Detroit, three games behind Boston for the Eastern Conference lead, had ended the first half on a 10-game winning streak.
The Pistons, who are allowing a league-low 90.1 points per game, had not yielded 100 or more in consecutive games since allowing five straight opponents to reach triple digits Nov. 11-18.
"I think everybody knows we're on the other side now, going downhill,'' said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, who had a season-high 34 points on Wednesday. "We've got to start fine tuning. These are games we can't let get away; teams we're supposed to beat, we have to beat.''
Still, the Pistons nearly came back from a 21-point deficit in Milwaukee. Rasheed Wallace had 21 points, including four 3-pointers in the final 2:20, but missed a potential tying 3 in the waning seconds.
"Our strength is when we play with energy and our basketball intelligence," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Last night and tonight for 40 minutes we didn't show any of those things until the last eight."
Michael Redd scored 27 points for the Bucks, who were able to avoid another embarrassing collapse after blowing a 17-point second-half lead to the Knicks on Feb. 9.
"I thought maybe we settled for some jump shots, and obviously we're running into a really good team," Krystkowiak said. "We've kind of set the bar right now as a team that will let you back in, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy a little bit for the other team, and it becomes one for us."
The Pistons acquired guard Juan Dixon on Thursday in a trade that sent center Primoz Brezec to Toronto. Dixon, a six-year veteran, is averaging 4.3 points in 12 minutes per game this season.
The trade could prompt Detroit to cut ties with seldom-used guard Flip Murray, who hasn't played since Dec. 12, and sign veteran free agent center Dale Davis, who played for the Pistons the last two seasons.
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