Johnson, Peja Keep Pacers Hot at Home
Indiana 88, Milwaukee 77
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 15 (Ticker) -- Anthony Johnson and Peja Stojakovic led the Indiana Pacers to yet another home win while continuing the Milwaukee Bucks' misery on the road.
Johnson scored 24 points and Stojakovic added 20 as the Pacers posted an 88-77 victory over the Bucks in a matchup of Central Division rivals.
"After letting one get away against San Antonio, it was important for us to bounce back as quick as possible," Johnson said. "It was their fourth game in five nights and we wanted to take advantage of that. We wanted to end on the right note going into the break."
Johnson scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Pacers built on their 40-39 halftime lead. He hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 57-47 advantage with 5:08 left in the quarter and closed the period with a jumper at the buzzer to make it 67-58.
"I felt like we were chasing them around all night," Bucks forward Bobby Simmons said. "We rushed things on the offensive end, but they played us tough at both ends. AJ (Anthony Johnson) was making a lot of shots. When you watch Peja coming off screens with the quick release, it reminds you of Reggie Miller."
Milwaukee closed within 76-70 on a basket by Michael Redd with 6:11 to play. Then it was Stojakovic's turn to take over. He sandwiched a 3-pointer and a dunk around a free throw by David Harrison to give Indiana its largest lead, 82-70, with 4:41 remaining.
"We started slow, didn't show a lot of energy early, and still managed a lead at halftime," Stojakovic said. "Jack (Jackson) did a great job in the second half on Redd and we executed better at the offensive end. Playing with more energy made the difference. We're playing well, and we know we still don't have our best player."
"We're in a situation now where we are starting to get healthy," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "The group we have now is giving great effort game after game. You always have to believe there's a possibility for good things down the road. There's light at the end of the tunnel."
While the Pacers remained hot at home, the Bucks continued to struggle on the road. Milwaukee is 6-6 since January 25, with all six wins coming at home and all six losses coming on the road.
"It was a physical game tonight," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "We haven't played those types of games well lately . We've struggled on the road and we just have to get better at these types of games. In some ways, it was like playing this team for the first time, because of the constant changes they've had in their lineup. Even without Jermaine O'Neal, they have created their own identity. They are just a good rebounding, physical team."
Redd scored 24 points and Simmons added 19 for Milwaukee, which has lost seven of its last nine visits to Conseco Fieldhouse.
"We were just a bit off tonight," Redd said. "This is the second time they've got us back-to-back. I think us having our full roster will help. This break comes at a good time for us. Will be able to get healthy and get things figured out for the stretch."