Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 101, Bucks 96
Scott Agness | February 27, 2014
The Indiana Pacers knew the challenge ahead of them Thursday night inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. No, Miami wasn’t in town. Nor was Oklahoma City.
It was the Milwaukee Bucks, the team with the worst record in the NBA. That didn’t matter to Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who stated multiple times Milwaukee was playing better than their record indicated. He also made sure that his players knew that Cleveland had gone into Oklahoma City last night and stolen a victory from the Thunder, who own the best record in the West.
The Bucks didn’t flame out into the background, but rather got to within three points with two minutes to play. Roy Hibbert, who scored a game-high 24 points, hit two foul shots, rebounded a missed layup at the other end and then buried an 11-foot jumper to help lift the Pacers (44-13) to their third consecutive victory — 101-96 the final over Milwaukee (11-46).
With a clear advantage inside, the Pacers fed their frontcourt players early and often. Hibbert, who had just four points in Milwaukee last Saturday, had four just over two minutes into the contest. Paul George also had a hot hand, and he nailed his first three shots. Backup center Ian Mahinmi finished the first quarter with a two-handed flush, as the Pacers doubled up the Bucks, 30-15, by shooting a scorching 68 percent from the field.
Indiana had defensive lapses in the second period, giving up a staggering 35 points in the frame. The Bucks, who connected on their first eight field goals of the quarter, first used a 19-7 spurt to draw within three before the Pacers went back ahead by double digits. Later, the Pacers had a troubling final two minutes to the half. Their final four possessions went miss, turnover, turnover, and air ball. Meanwhile, the Bucks scored 12 straight points against Indiana's starters to knot the game at 50 just before the half concluded. Suffice to say, Pacers coach Frank Vogel wasn’t very happy.
Adding to the run they used to conclude the first half, the Bucks moved ahead by six with 9:11 left in the third. Over the final five minutes of the quarter, the Pacers went on an 11-0 run as the Bucks missed their last 10 shots. Still, the Pacers’ lead was just seven entering the final quarter of play.
Over the final 45 seconds of the game, the Bucks dropped in three of their 12 3-pointers, but the Pacers maintained their narrow lead by knocking down four of five free throws and Lance Stephenson banging in a critical outside shot.
Though they came up short, the Bucks did a great job in the second half minimizing the impact of David West, who put 30 on them last Saturday. He had just one point over the final two quarters. Milwaukee double-teamed West whenever the ball was sent inside to him, forcing him to become more of a facilitator.
After tonight, it won’t matter how the Pacers won — only that they did. Vogel is giving his team the day off on Friday, though many players will be in for treatment, before beginning a stretch of five games over seven days.
Inside the Numbers
With February's games now in the books, Roy Hibbert easily had his best game of the month: 24 points and 12 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the year. Paul George and Lance Stephenson each had 18 points and C.J. Watson added nine off the bench.
Bucks guard Brandon Knight was 10-of-20 from the floor and had a team-high 23 points. Khris Middleton had 22 points, hitting on 3-of-4 3-point attempts. With nine points and 11 rebounds, Ersan Ilyasova finished was a point shy of a double-double.
The Bucks’ 35 points in the second quarter were the most by any Pacers opponent this season.
The Pacers improve to 21-2 when scoring in triple digits and 11-1 when shooting 50 percent or more of their shots go down.
Milwaukee converted Indiana’s 19 turnovers to 25 points, while only giving it away 12 themselves.
“You can’t look at records. Everybody plays at different levels throughout a year. This team is playing much better than they have most of the year, right now. … This is a team we should beat at home, and we did beat at home.” – Frank Vogel
“Just a little bit out of rhythm, a little bit out of sync. We just got to take individual accountability to take care of the ball a little better.” – Frank Vogel on his team’s 19 turnovers
“We got some big plays down the stretch. Roy, with the and-1, I think really was the biggest play of the game to really put us over the top. It’s good to see the win. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.” – George Hill
“It was just one of those nights that it came together. I was 1-for-9 when I played them a couple games ago. It was night that some went in [tonight].” – Roy Hibbert
“Don’t play down to their level and just win. … They played like they had nothing to lose.” – Roy Hibbert on their biggest challenge of the game
Stat of the Game
The Pacers made 19-of-22 free throws and outscored the Bucks by 11 points at the line.
- The Pacers have won five straight over Milwaukee. They have one last meeting remaining this season: April 9 on the road.
- George Hill fell on his left shoulder with 1:50 left in the game and didn’t return. It was initially ruled a bruise, and he’s day-to-day moving forward.
- Earlier Thursday, the Bucks waived reached a buyout agreement with forward Caron Butler, who didn’t make the trip.
- Pacers radio announcers Mark Boyle and Slick Leonard called the game from the G2 Zone, George Hill and Paul George’s section.
- Robert Mathis and Vick Ballard of the Colts, Katie Douglas and Jeanette Pohlen of the Fever sat courtside.
Saturday, Mar. 1 at Boston – 8 p.m. EST