AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Normally, the Detroit Pistons have too many big men.
Friday, they almost didn't have enough.
With several post players unavailable, Detroit needed key efforts from little-used reserves Nazr Mohammed and Jason Maxiell to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 96-86.
Detroit's problems started before the game, when Dale Davis was put on the inactive list for missing the morning shootaround. Things got worse in the third quarter, when Rasheed Wallace benched himself to avoid being ejected, a fate that quickly befell his replacement, Antonio McDyess.
That forced Mohammed and Maxiell into the game, and they quickly teamed up on two fast breaks that helped Detroit take a 72-62 lead into the final period.
"Nazr and Max were huge when we needed them," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We called on them and they did a nice job."
Chauncey Billups led a balanced Pistons attack with 20 points, but passed much of the credit onto Mohammed, who has gone from the starting lineup to the end of the bench.
"Nazr is a pro," Billups said. "He's been out of the rotation, but he's working as hard as anyone else. When we needed him today, he was ready."
The Bucks, who are 2-14 since Jan. 1, have lost seven straight on the road.
"We've got to bounce back," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "Michael Redd will be back, hopefully next week, and we've just got to get back to where we were in December."
Both teams had six players in double figures.
Richard Hamilton added 18 points for the Pistons, while Tayshaun Prince had 14 and matched a career high with 12 rebounds.
Andrew Bogut led the Bucks with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
"We just lost a couple of games by 30, so this looks like a good effort," he said. "It we could stay mentally focused for two halves, we'd be fine."
Wallace picked up his 14th technical foul early in the third quarter, and will get an automatic one-game suspension after two more.
"It's a joke," Wallace said.
Moments later, Wallace asked Saunders to take him out because of his anger with the officials.
"He was frustrated, but he's learning what to do," Saunders said.
Milwaukee led for much of the first half, but the Pistons scored the final six points to take a 44-41 lead into the break.
The Bucks outrebounded Detroit 24-18 in the half, but didn't attempt a single free throw.
"Free-throw differential is one of Detroit's strengths," Stotts said. "But that's frustrating."
The teams continued to swap the lead in the third, but Prince made it 67-60 late in the quarter with two free throws on a possession he had kept alive with a pair of offensive rebounds.
Maxiell added a fast-break dunk after Mohammed blocked Earl Boykins' shot, and another long pass by Mohammed set up Maxiell's free throws.
"That gave us some energy," Billups said. "There are times you need that -- something like Nazr gave us or Tayshaun getting to the glass."
Boykins -- who is 17 inches shorter than Mohammed -- got some revenge with a 3-pointer midway through the fourth, cutting the margin to 77-73, but Wallace immediately hit one at the other end.
The Bucks came back again, pulling within 84-82 on Charlie Bell's layup with 2:52 left, but Billups answered with a 3-pointer at the other end and Wallace followed with another 3 to give Detroit an eight-point lead.
"It could have gone either way, but we made defensive mistakes in the last two or three minutes," Stotts said. "I'm proud of the way we played, but we're tired of trying to take things from losses."