AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- All-Star center Andre Drummond retreated to the bench early in the third quarter because his coach didn't think he was playing hard enough.
When Drummond returned, he got back to what he does best. The league's top offensive rebounder scored on a tip-in with 2.1 seconds remaining, giving the Detroit Pistons a 92-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday at The Palace.
Drummond's put-back of a missed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-point attempt allowed the Pistons (37-34), who have won three straight, to keep pace in the playoff race.
The Pistons lost two heartbreakers to the Memphis Grizzlies this season, so they felt they deserved a buzzer-beating victory of their own.
"It happened to us twice already by the same team," Drummond said. "To finally get one to come our way was definitely a good feeling."
Milwaukee's Jerryd Bayless missed two free throws prior to Drummond's game-winner.
"If you look at the numbers, other than the free-throw advantage, it's really hard to find a way you win that game," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But we hung in there and gave ourselves a chance to get lucky in the end. Sometimes, that's what it takes."
Drummond didn't hang his head when Van Gundy pulled him with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter. Van Gundy brought back Drummond during the opening minute in the fourth quarter, and the center contributed eight points and six rebounds the rest of the way as the Pistons clawed back from a 13-point, second-half deficit.
"He was just jogging up and down the court," Van Gundy said. "I thought he played a lot better in the fourth quarter. I just didn't think he was bringing us any energy in the third quarter."
Drummond set a screen and blocked out Giannis Antetokounmpo on the game-winning play.
"Stan knows how to get the best out of everybody," said Drummond, who contributed his league-high 58th double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. "He wasn't satisfied with my performance on the floor, and when he speaks to you, you've got to take it in. I put it back into the game when I got back in."
Marcus Morris had 21 points to lead Detroit, while Caldwell-Pope supplied 15 points and Tobias Harris added 13 points and six rebounds. The Pistons' leading scorer on the season, Reggie Jackson, was held to nine points.
Khris Middleton scored a game-high 27 points for the Bucks (30-41), who lost their third straight.
"I thought we played very well for four quarters," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. "The game was a game of inches, and the ball bounced their way and they came up with a big win."
The Bucks shot 53.9 percent from the field and held Detroit to 41.2 percent shooting, but it wasn't enough.
"The ball has to bounce your way, and for them, the ball bounced to the best rebounder," Kidd said. "He made a heck of a play, heck of a tip. They took a tough shot, and we did everything right and after that, we just couldn't get the stop."
Antetokounmpo had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, and Greg Monroe powered for 18 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee.
The Pistons won the season series 3-1.
The Bucks led by five with under than two minutes remaining, but when Harris hit two free throws with 46.9 seconds left, Milwaukee's lead was down to 89-88.
Middleton responded with a jumper, but Jackson followed with a layup. Bayless then missed his pair of free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Drummond's tip-in gave Detroit its second one-point win this season.
NOTES: SG Jodie Meeks (shoulder) and PG Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) were the Pistons' inactives. ... The Bucks had 11 players in uniform, two shy of the maximum, because of injuries and Development League assignments. ... The Bucks' usage of 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard presents a dilemma for opponents. "You're not going to have anybody big enough to play him unless you're going to put your center on him, and you're not going to do that," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. ... The Pistons play the fifth game of a franchise-record, nine-game homestand Wednesday against Orlando. The Bucks continue a three-game road trip at Cleveland on Wednesday. ... Through the weekend, Milwaukee SF Jabari Parker was averaging 20.0 points and 6.4 rebounds since the All-Star break, compared to 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds before the break. ... Detroit allowed more than 100 points in eight of its previous nine games.