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Bucks make the plays they need down stretch to hold off Pistons

Khris Middleton’s shooting touch reappeared, and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored seven of his 32 points in the final 2:48, as the Milwaukee Bucks survived two 3-point attempts in the final 11 seconds for a 107-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons Monday night.

Middleton made 3 of 6 3-point attempts on his way to 22 points, posting his best game in more than three weeks. Eric Bledsoe added 17.

Reggie Bullock scored 24 points and Stanley Johnson added 20 off the bench to lead the Pistons (14-14), Blake Griffin posted a triple-double of 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but missed Detroit’s two 3-pointers in the final 11 seconds. Griffin also finished with 10 turnovers for what was actually a quadruple-double — not one worthy of celebration.

The Bucks (20-9) won for the fourth time in five games to pull within 1 1/2 games of Toronto (23-9) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks won the last two games of their three-game road trip.

Bucks starter Malcolm Brogdon missed his second straight game with a sore left hamstring, and key reserve forward Ersan Ilyasova missed with a facial bruise.

Middleton made two 3-pointers in an early 11-2 run that got the Bucks going after they had fallen behind, 10-2.

Antetokounmpo picked up two fouls in the first 2:56, and went to the bench. Middleton and Bledsoe picked up the slack for the offense, and second-year men D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown made strong contributions at both ends of the floor, helping the Bucks build what became a 15-point lead in the third quarter. Wilson and Brown finished with nearly identical lines. Each posted nine points, three rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes. Brown added three steals and Wilson blocked a shot.

Center Brook Lopez scored just three points, but they came on a big 3-pointer midway though the fourth quarter. He also posted five of the Bucks’ 10 blocked shots.

The Pistons got hot at the end of the third quarter, closing what was a 15-point deficit to four at 81-77 entering the fourth.

Detroit stayed hot — particularly from behind the arc — and took an 89-86 lead on Johnson’s 3-pointer with 9:01 left. From there, Wilson scored on an alley-oop layup, and Brown scored on a twisting shot in the lane to give the Bucks the lead back at 90-89 with 7:10 left.

Johnson gave the Pistons their last lead of the night before Brown drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner with 6:12 left off an assist from Wilson. Middleton made two free throws to push the lead to 95-91 with 5:45 left.

Johnson’s fourth and final 3-pointer of the night pulled the Pistons within 100-99 with 3:46 left, and Bledsoe missed all three free throws after being fouled outside the arc. But Antetokoumpo stepped up in the final three minutes.

He dunked off a pass from Brown with 2:47, drove for a finger-roll and a free throw with 2:19 and again drove for a layup to make it 107-100 with 1:48 left. Johnson made a floater in the lane with 1:01. After a suspect offensive foul called against Antetokounmpo, Reggie Bullock hit a jumper with 38.5 left to cut it to three.

Middleton’s three bounced off and out of bounds with 14.4 left, but after a timeout, Griffin missed two 3-pointers, the last at the buzzer after his first miss bounced way outside to Jose Calderon.

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