Bucks pick up easy win as Pistons rest for playoffs

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks didn't bobble a big opportunity.

Locked in a three-way struggle for playoff positioning, Milwaukee took advantage of a Detroit Pistons team resting two of its top three scorers with a 113-93 victory Monday night.

It was a game the Bucks should have won -- but they haven't always won games they're supposed to this season.

"It speaks a lot about our team, because we've been up and down all year long," Michael Redd said.

The victory allows Milwaukee to regain momentum after a head-scratching home loss to Atlanta on Friday night, and it gives the Bucks a temporary leg up in their seeding scrum with Indiana and Chicago.

The Bucks temporarily take over the No. 6 playoff seed and have a shot at the fifth seed in their regular-season finale at Washington on Tuesday night.

With the fifth seed, the Bucks would face Cleveland in the first round.

"We'd rather get five and get Cleveland, but it's going to be a tough game," Bucks center Andrew Bogut said.

Redd and Bobby Simmons each scored 19 to lead Milwaukee.

The Pistons struggled to find scoring, but that was to be expected.

Having clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Pistons deactivated Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton, giving the two stars a chance to rest in preparation for the playoffs.

"We said going in the idea was to not get anybody hurt and make sure that the guys we had to play broke a sweat and didn't get too stale and give our young guys an opportunity to play in a heated situation against some top players," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.

The Bucks didn't mind one bit.

"They wanted to get out of here, which was good for us," Bogut said.

Carlos Delfino and Amir Johnson had 18 points each to lead Detroit.

"You got a chance to see some of the younger guys get out there -- you know, have a little fun, get their feet wet, so to speak," said Ben Wallace, who played fewer than 19 minutes Monday.

Jason Maxiell had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons.

"We didn't come out with a win, but it felt great to go out there," Maxiell said.

Redd, Simmons and T.J. Ford combined to shoot 5-for-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter, allowing Milwaukee to open an 87-58 lead heading into the final period.

"It was a 'burst' game," Saunders said. "They had an eight-minute stretch where they really ganged up on us."

With one game left to play in their regular season, the Pistons still don't know who they're going to face in the first round.

"This last week of the season for the bottom four teams has been the most unique race I've ever seen," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "With three days to go there's no playoff [matchup] set in the East. It's amazing."

Milwaukee entered Monday's game with an identical record to Indiana and Chicago. Both of the Bucks' rivals won Monday night, but Milwaukee holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over each of them.

Milwaukee and Indiana have identical records against each other this season, and identical records in the Central Division. The third playoff seeding tiebreaker is conference record, where Milwaukee has an edge over Indiana.

Chicago beat Orlando in overtime Monday night, but the Bucks have a better Central Division record than the Bulls.

Washington was idle Monday night and has games left against Milwaukee and at Detroit.

"It's a playoff game," Ford said about Tuesday's matchup with Washington. "It's definitely going to be a playoff environment. I'm excited."

The Bucks opened the decisive third quarter on a 14-7 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Redd and Ford. Milwaukee outscored Detroit 33-19 in the third quarter.

Milwaukee ran off to a 17-2 lead as the Pistons began the game shooting 1-for-11 from the floor.

"I would have liked to have seen the guys get off to a better start early, with their main group," Saunders said.

Game notes
With Wallace and Hamilton inactive for Detroit, Maurice Evans made his first start of the season and Dale Davis made his second start of the season. ... Saunders was called for a technical foul in the second quarter. ... It was the Bucks' first victory in four games against Detroit this year. ... Monday's attendance was 18,475.