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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

Bucks have themselves to blame for 0-2 hole

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Detroit Pistons didn't need to get physical with Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd last night. But the Pistons turned up the defensive heat anyway.

Detroit hurt Milwaukee where it counted - on the scoreboard.

Maybe now Milwaukee first-year coach Terry Stotts will remove his foot from his mouth and go about the business of preventing a Pistons sweep in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

After Detroit's too-easy 109-98 victory over Milwaukee at the Palace for a 2-0 series lead, Stotts was left looking as feeble as his outclassed team.

In true crybaby fashion, Stotts complained after an 18-point loss in Game 1 that the Pistons in general - and guard Richard Hamilton in particular - held and grabbed Redd and that the officials looked the other way. Redd scored 11 points on four-of-15 shooting.

Stotts' outburst was ill-timed and off-base. Milwaukee advanced to the playoffs with a losing record. Stotts hasn't earned the right to complain about what he tried to pass off as one-sided officiating, especially when Milwaukee's performance has been dreadful to this point.

Some whine to go with that cheese, Terry?

Fast forward to Game 2. The Pistons continued to grab and hold Redd, who scored a game-high 29 points.

The Pistons will grab and hold again in Game 3, because these are the playoffs, after all. Teams tend to play more physical in the postseason - no autopsy, no foul.

Unless you're the Bucks, who only play hard at the offensive end and act like defense is something that surrounds Stotts' house.

The Pistons have played in the last two finals, winning once. They've earned the right to tweak a few rules by grabbing jerseys and bumping opponents on defense.

Memo to Stotts: It's OK for the Bucks to do the same thing.

There are no secrets in the NBA. The Pistons play defense; the Bucks don't.

Everyone knows the Bucks are a one-man team seeing Redd, the former Ohio State standout who's paid a lot of money to shoot and score.

Well, Stotts got his wish. His outburst was rewarded. Redd earned more respect from the officials last night, going 7-for-7 from the foul line after shooting a total of three free throws in Game 1.

Whoopee. The Pistons are shaking in their sneakers.

Redd doesn't need Stotts to fight his battles in the media. He's a pro's pro and a self-made multimillionaire who continues to expand his game and will learn to mesh his considerable talents with his teammates.

"We made adjustments to try to get me open. It was a little different tonight," Redd said.

Individually - yes. On the scoreboard - no.

The scene now shifts to Milwaukee for the next two games. If the Bucks really want to make this a series, they must exert more energy - gulp - at the defensive end.

Otherwise, this will be a short series.

Detroit shot 50.6 percent from the field last night as six players scored in double figures, led by Tayshaun Prince (22 points) and Chauncey Billups (20).

The Pistons scored 28 fastbreak points, knocked down 10-of-25 3-pointers and had 42 field goals on 30 assists and only nine turnovers.

"I've been disappointed with them scoring in transition. We need to do a better job of that," Stotts said.

Among other things.



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