2024 Playoffs: East First Round | Bucks (3) vs. Pacers (6)

Damian Lillard starts fast again, nets 26 points in 1st half of Game 2

Damian Lillard follows up his 35-point 1st half in Game 1 with 26 more to open Game 2.

Damian Lillard scored 15 of his 26 first-half points in the first quarter of Game 2.

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two nights after scoring 35 points in the first half against the Indiana Pacers, Damian Lillard had 26 points by halftime for the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference playoff series on Tuesday night.

The difference this time is that Indiana managed to keep pace.

Lillard scored all 35 of his points before halftime Sunday as the Bucks led 69-42 at the break and went on to win 109-94. The Pacers led Tuesday’s game 60-55 at halftime, but it wasn’t enough as the Pacers won Game 2, 125-108, to tie the series.

“I think both games we had a lot of success in the first two quarters mainly, and then in the second half we kind of get away from the things we had a lot of success doing,” Lillard said.

Pacers forward Pascal Siakam had another big game himself, following up a 36-point effort in Game 1 with 37 points to power Indiana’s win. According to Stats Perform, Siakam is the first NBA player to open a postseason with consecutive 35-point, 10-rebound performances since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.

Lillard didn’t get enough help with the Bucks once again missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a strained left calf. Antetokounmpo hasn’t played since he was hurt in an April 9 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Even after Lillard’s big early onslaught, the Bucks still trailed 60-55 at halftime. Indiana stayed ahead throughout the second half.

Lillard shot 7-for-12 overall, 6-for-11 from 3-point range and 6-for-7 on free-throw attempts. Lillard and Brook Lopez combined to score Milwaukee’s first 21 points.

Similar to Game 1, however, Lillard faded after halftime, scoring just eight more points to finish with 34 as the Pacers won to even the series at 1-1.

Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez scored 22 points and shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton scored 15 points. Bobby Portis had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bucks cut Indiana’s lead to one late in the third quarter and got it down to four in the opening minutes of the fourth. The Pacers responded each time and pushed their lead to 23 in the fourth quarter.