Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Josh Smith Game: Pistons Take Down Bucks 116-111

Josh Smith defied all reason in Monday’s victory, leading Detroit to its first win in six tries.

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Josh Smith has endured relentless criticism for his irrational addiction to shooting jumpers. And rightfully so.

Despite shooting 70.6 percent at the rim entering Monday’s game, nearly two-thirds of the swingman’s field goal attempts this season have been of the jump shot variety. Suffice it to say Smith hasn’t exactly set the nets on fire. Take a look at these percentages by distance, courtesy of Basketball-Reference:

Basketball-Reference.com

Basketball-Reference.com

Take a moment to gather yourself. It’s going to be okay.

The numbers aren’t pretty, and they’ve led to an incredibly disappointing season for a Pistons team that brought Smith in as a prized free agent this offseason.

But on Monday night, it was Smith’s jumper that saved the Pistons from losing to the NBA’s two worst teams in consecutive games.

Smith hit four jumpshots, including two threes, in the fourth quarter, spurring a late run that would prove to be the difference in Detroit’s 116-111 victory.

Entering the final period trailing 82-81, Detroit found itself down 98-92 with less than six minutes remaining. That’s when Smith took over (I swear this is not sarcasm). He drilled a three with 5:28 remaining to cut the deficit to three and scored 12 of the Pistons’ 14 points during a 14-6 run a few minutes later that put Detroit up 113-104 with 54 seconds remaining.

“He started making shots,” Larry Drew, who coached Smith during his time with the Hawks, said. “I thought we did a good job from a game strategy standpoint. We did what we were supposed to do and he just started making shots.”

Smith finished with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, the first time he’s converted more than half of his field goal attempts since Feb. 26.

“He made them tonight when it counted,” Drew continued. “He made some really big shots. He took his time, got his feet set and knocked them down.”

While Smith was the fourth quarter hero, Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Brandon Jennings added 20 points and 13 assists, and Andre Drummond chipped 10 points to go with a game-high 16 boards.

Milwaukee, which led 61-52 at halftime, was paced by 20 points (5-10 FG, 9-11 FT), 11 assists and five rebounds from Ramon Sessions. Zaza Pachulia, one of five starters in double-figures, added 12 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, while Jeff Adrien contributed 16 points and eight boards. In 30 minutes off the bench, Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Despite struggling from the field (7-21 FG,), Brandon Knight scored a team-high 25 points to go with nine rebounds and seven assists. He knocked down 11-of-14 attempts at the line, finishing the month with three games of at least 10 free throw attempts. Knight previously had not attempted 10 or more free throws in more than one game in any month this season.

Game notes:

– O.J. Mayo did not see the floor for the second straight game as he continues to deal with an ankle injury.

– Both teams posted 50 total rebounds, 28 assists, five steals and five blocks.

– Milwaukee went 28-of-36 from the line, while Detroit logged just 21 attempts, connecting on 15.

Leaders

Points: Monroe (28), Knight (25)

Rebounds: Drummond (16), Pachulia (13)

Assists: Jennings (13), Knight (7)

Blocks: Monroe (2), Pachulia (3)

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