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News » Johnson starts, provides a spark

Johnson starts, provides a spark

Johnson starts, provides a spark
MILWAUKEE -- It's been a while since Amir Johnson played with the starting unit for the Detroit Pistons .

The 6-foot-11 forward made up for lost time on Saturday in helping Detroit defeat Milwaukee, 87-76.

"He stayed ready," said Pistons coach Michael Curry.

Johnson, making his first start since a 100-92 Pistons win at Sacramento on Nov. 11, had eight points and 11 rebounds while filling in for Richard Hamilton who was out with a left groin injury.

"Like I told you earlier, just play hard," Johnson said. "You do that, you're going to be all right out there."

However, numbers rarely tell the impact Johnson makes.

Johnson also had four blocked shots and altered countless others. He hustled for loose balls and forced a couple of turnovers.

Johnson also showcased his versatility defensively as he more than held his own when matched up with a smaller Richard Jefferson.

"He defended him (Jefferson) well," Curry said. "When Amir is locked in and focused, which he has been the last couple of days, he's really good for us."

Milwaukee team came into Saturday's game having won three in a row, and five of their past six games.

Milwaukee had also won all five of its previous games at the Bradley Center this month, with an average lead of 8.6 points after the first quarter.

But Milwaukee's past first-quarter success did little good Saturday as Detroit closed out the first with an 8-2 run to lead 27-21.

Johnson was the difference-maker early on. In the first quarter, he had seven rebounds, four points and two blocked shots.

"The last couple games, we've gotten a spark from him," said Detroit's Allen Iverson, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter. "Going down the stretch, that's what we're going to need."

Tayshaun Prince, who led all scorers with 19 points, echoed similar sentiments about Johnson.

"He definitely gave us a good job defensively, on the boards and blocked some shots," Prince said.

The Bucks kept the game close in the second quarter, which ended with the Pistons ahead, 46-44.

Milwaukee got off to a good start in the third, but Detroit finished the quarter with a 23-7 run to lead 73-55 going into the fourth.

Wit h the game well in hand, Curry decided to empty his bench with about five minutes to play and Detroit ahead 82-64.

Milwaukee scored seven in a row, which prompted Curry to call a timeout with 1:35 to play and the Pistons ahead 82-71.

Following the timeout, Curry brought Prince back in for Will Bynum.

"Maybe at times I need to keep a couple of our starters in there a little longer," Curry said. "To make sure everything is balanced out when we bring guys in off the bench."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008


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