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MILWAUKEE (KRT) – The Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff pulse, barely detectable after two road defeats last week, was pounding a bit stronger Saturday night after they played their most complete game of the series and
crushed the Detroit Pistons, 124-104, at the
Bradley Center.

The victory narrowed Detroit’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 scheduled to be played at the Bradley Center tonight. By winning Saturday, the Bucks avoided the indignity of a first-round sweep.

“Nobody wants to be swept,” said Bucks guard T.J. Ford. “Nobody.”

This group of Pistons, in their third playoff run together, have never swept an opponent out of the playoffs. The Bucks, meanwhile, avoided losing three straight playoff games to start a series for the first time since they were swept in the first round, 3-0, by Indiana in 1999.

The Bucks led by seven at halftime and then hit the Pistons with a 23-6 haymaker to start the second half and take an 86-62 lead. Milwaukee led after three quarters, 90-74. The Bucks made 12 of 18 shots (66.7 percent) in the third quarter.

Detroit didn’t get any closer than 14 in the fourth quarter, and Detroit coach Flip Saunders began to pull his starters with 3:33 left and Milwaukee leading, 114-91. The Bucks led by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter.

After playing their best basketball of the series, the Bucks led at halftime, 61-54.

The Bucks shot 54 percent and committed only
two turnovers.

The Bucks then lowered the boom on Detroit in the third quarter.

Three free throws by Michael Redd, one coming off a technical foul on Hamilton, gave Milwaukee an 84-60 lead with 4:15 to go. Detroit scored the final six points of the quarter.