NBA: Bucks hammer Pistons in playoff opener

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(Reuters) — Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up 24 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in only 23 minutes as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks overwhelmed the visiting Detroit Pistons 121-86 in their Eastern Conference playoff opener on Sunday.

George Hill had 16 points off the bench for the Bucks, who led by 27 at halftime. Eric Bledsoe scored 15 points, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton had 14 apiece, and Sterling Brown added 11 along with a team-high seven assists.

Pistons center Andre Drummond was ejected with 4:07 remaining in the third quarter for shoving Antetokounmpo to the floor. The two-handed push occurred after Antetokounmpo grabbed an offensive rebound. Drummond finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Luke Kennard’s 21 points off the bench topped Detroit. Reggie Jackson added 12 points and five assists.

The eighth-seeded Pistons, making just their second playoff appearance since the 2008-09 season, played without All-Star forward Blake Griffin. He was sidelined by a sore left knee, which also kept him out of four of the last seven regular-season games. The Bucks were without guards Malcolm Brogdon (foot) and Tony Snell (ankle).

Milwaukee shot 48.9 percent from the field, while the Pistons made 38 percent of their attempts.

Milwaukee, which swept the four-game season series, led 20-4 less than five minutes into the game. The Bucks led by 20, 38-18, after the first quarter as Antetokounmpo and Lopez combined for 21 points.

Kennard scored 11 points in the first 6:15 of the second quarter as Detroit cut the deficit to 16.

That’s as close as the Pistons would get, however, as the Bucks stretched the lead to 70-43 by halftime. Antetokounmpo and Lopez had 14 points apiece and Hill scored 13. Kennard’s 15 points led the Pistons.

Milwaukee’s advantage reached 30 just 26 seconds into the second half when Brown made a 3-pointer. The lead moved past 41 when Antetokounmpo fired in a 3 from the top of the key with 4:35 remaining in the quarter.

Griffin was called for a technical from the bench after Drummond’s foul was ruled a Flagrant Two.

Game 2 will be played on Wednesday in Milwaukee.