Auburn Hills, MI – Tayshaun Prince scored 20 points and hit the go-ahead free throws with 10.9 seconds left as the Detroit Pistons edged the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-94, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Greg Monroe posted 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Maxiell also recorded a double-double for Detroit, which squandered an 11-point advantage with 5 1/2 minutes left before rallying down the stretch for its fourth win in the last five games.
Maxiell finished with 10 points and 10 boards.
Milwaukee took its first lead of the night on Monta Ellis' jumper with 1:06 left to play, but Prince answered with a successful hook shot to tie the game at 94-94 before drawing a late foul and making both bonus attempts for the difference.
"He is such a big-time player when it comes to situations like that," said Pistons guard Brandon Knight of Prince. "He's been in them so many times, so he's very poised in situations like that."
Ellis poured in 30 points while dishing out nine assists in Milwaukee's setback, which halted a two-game win streak that included a victory over reigning world champion Miami on Saturday. Ersan Ilyasova added 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, with 17 of his total coming in the second half.
"[Detroit] outplayed us except for maybe six to eight minutes the whole game," said Bucks head coach Scott Skiles. "They deserved to win and we had chances to try and steal it at the end. They were more physical and had a lot more energy. We had trouble finding a lineup that could kind of get some cohesive energy going."
Detroit was up by as many as 15 points during one stage in the third quarter and owned a 92-81 lead with 5:28 to go, before Ellis and Ilyasova sparked a late Bucks comeback.
The duo combined for 10 points during a 13-0 burst that sent Milwaukee in front, with Ilyasova's 3-ball with 1:43 remaining creating a 92-92 deadlock and Ellis putting the Bucks ahead with a successful fade shot that followed a Pistons' turnover.
Prince evened things up on Detroit's next possession, sinking a short hook with 50.5 seconds to play, and Maxiell grabbed the rebound of an Ellis miss before the Pistons called timeout.
Prince then was fouled by Luc Mbah a Moute and made both from the line, with Ellis again misfiring just prior to the buzzer to enable the Pistons to hold on.
The first quarter featured a series of runs, with Detroit ripping off the first 13 points as Milwaukee missed its first five shots and had two early turnovers. Ellis netted six points during a 15-4 spurt later on that pulled the Bucks within 19-17, but the Pistons put together a 9-2 tear near the end of the period to go up by a 30-21 count.
Detroit extended the margin during a strong second quarter, with a Charlie Villanueva 3-pointer with 7:48 remaining before intermission giving the Pistons a 39-25 lead. Detroit would go into the break holding a 10-point differential at 55-45, with Prince's 13 points leading the way.
"It seemed like they were getting whatever they wanted, and I just thought our offensive rhythm was terrible to start the game," said Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy, "Finally we got some stuff going, but we didn't start well."
The Pistons maintained a double-digit cushion throughout the third quarter until an Ellis layup cut the deficit to 73-64 with 2:30 to go in the session. Milwaukee would go into the fourth down 78-71 after Ellis drove the lane and scored to close things out.
Detroit then scored the first six points of the final quarter, with four coming from reserve guard Will Bynum, and stayed in front until the Bucks made their late charge.
The Pistons, who downed Miami by a 109-99 score on Friday, played their second straight game without guard Rodney Stuckey due to a sprained ankle ... The Bucks went just 12-of-17 from the free-throw line after making 34-of-36 foul shots over their previous two outings ... Detroit finished with a 47-33 rebounding advantage and grabbed 16 offensive boards ... Milwaukee fell to 2-5 in the second of back-to-back games this season.