MILWAUKEE – Bucks coach Scott Skiles is not quite ready to call Brandon Jennings an all-star. With a few more victories, he might be.
Jennings had 21 points, reserve Mike Dunleavy added a season-high 20 on 8-of-10 shooting and Milwaukee rolled to a 103-82 victory over the skidding Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
“Realistically, we’ve got to have a better record,” Skiles said when asked about Jennings’ all-star chances. “Let’s see what our record is when the vote comes across my desk. I think you have got to be on a winning team. That should be one nice measurement, and we’re getting close to being a winning team.”
Milwaukee, which has won four of six after losing three straight, improved to 9-11.
“It would be nice for us to go ahead and punch through .500 and see what happens,” Skiles said.
Drew Gooden shot 7 of 9 and scored 16 points for the Bucks, including seven straight during a decisive 12-2 run to open the second half. Detroit, which has lost five straight and nine of 10, never led in falling to 4-18.
Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 19 points, and Greg Monroe added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’ve been inconsistent this whole year,” Stuckey said. “It comes together, then it falls apart. We’ve just got to make it sustain for 48 minutes.”
Jennings scored nine points in the first 7 1/2 minutes, helping the Bucks to a 30-16 lead after the first quarter. He added 12 in the third period.
“We were just moving the ball well,” Jennings said. “We just looked like a good team out there.
“We’re just rolling right now,” he added. “We’ve just got to keep the team spirit and just keep everything positive. … I think we should be above .500.”
Milwaukee, led by Gooden, opened the third on a 12-2 run to turn a 47-41 halftime lead into a 59-43 advantage.
“We’ve been having a lot of third-quarter woes around here, and Coach is always talking about not letting a team come back,” Gooden said. “I was keeping that in my mind, just knowing that I was going to start the third quarter off with a lot of intensity. Just keep that mindset that we’re not going to let up and be front-runners and just kind of go for the jugular.”
Detroit got within 10 points in the third, but the Bucks sealed it by making nine of 10 shots spanning the third and fourth quarters — with the only miss being a three-quarters-court try by Jennings at the end of the third — to extend the lead to 75-60.
Milwaukee led by as many as 23 points in the fourth.
“Jennings, in that third quarter, I don’t think he missed a shot,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “Dunleavy had catch-and-shoot jump shots. They blitzed us in the third quarter. This team, when you allow them to make threes, it’s trouble.
“Jennings was dominant. Dunleavy was dominant.”
The Bucks got off to a strong start, shooting 68.8 per cent in the first quarter (11 of 16). They led by as many as 18 in the second, but the Pistons rallied, closing the half on a 9-1 run to pull to within six at halftime. Stuckey had 11 in the period for Detroit, which outscored Milwaukee 25-17.
“It always hurts when you cut down a lead and give it right back to them,” Monroe said. “Whenever you do fight back, you have to be perfect the rest of the game and that’s something we didn’t do.”
Jennings came in averaging 20 points per game and has scored 20 or more in eight of the Bucks’ last nine games. The only time he didn’t during that stretch was Milwaukee’s 100-89 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. He had 12 points and seven assists in that game.
“He’s playing great, making good decisions, shooting the ball really well, doing a great job of leading our team. What else can you say?” Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy, too, has seen patience pay off after he struggled to start the season. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter Monday.
“In Vegas, I’m a blackjack guy,” Dunleavy said. “Numbers, they always come back. You can start off and be getting crushed by the house and losing all your money, but if you stick around the tables long enough, you’ll make it back.”
Milwaukee shot 10 of 17 on 3-pointers and 51.4 per cent overall for the game. Detroit was 1 for 9 on 3s — connecting for the only time with less than a minute left — and shot just 38.6 per cent for the game.
Tayshaun Prince had 14 points for Detroit, which dropped to 1-10 on the road. Milwaukee is 6-2 at home.
One second-quarter possession pretty much summed up the Pistons’ struggles. It started positively, with Stuckey’s steal, but Damien Wilkins missed an easy breakaway layup. Stuckey then missed two point-blank follows, but Detroit got another chance — before Monroe picked up a charge as he ran over Ersan Ilyasova on his way to the basket.
“We’re just getting off to bad starts,” Stuckey said. “We’re letting teams score. Tonight, they had it their way in the first quarter, getting easy shots, just doing whatever they wanted to do. When you are letting teams do that, it’s hard to win games.”
Detroit, which has the second-worst record in the NBA behind Charlotte, was without Ben Gordon (sore left shoulder), Charlie Villanueva (sore right ankle) and Will Bynum (strained right foot). All three are day-to-day.
Notes: Milwaukee’s Stephen Jackson was on the active roster but did not play after serving a one-game suspension for verbal abuse of an official and failure to leave the court after the Bucks’ 107-100 loss at Chicago on Friday. Jackson was also held out of a game Jan. 20 for missing shootaround. Skiles said Jackson “will have an opportunity to work himself back in there.” Jackson said that’s fine with him. “Everybody knows the situation. My situation is going to get better soon. Until then, I’m going to support these guys and continue to collect my check,” he said. . It was the first of two back-to-back-to-back stretches for Detroit this season. The Pistons play the New York Knicks on Tuesday and New Jersey Nets on Wednesday.