Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has made it a point of emphasis in recent days for his team to close games strong.
The reason for Vogel's message? A little over a week ago, Indiana allowed Minnesota to whittle a 27-point lead down to one before holding off the Timberwolves for a narrow victory.
Playing at home for the first time since that contest, the Pacers (8-5) had no issues putting their opponent away, dominating the third quarter and never letting up en route to a 123-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks (5-8).
The Blue & Gold outscored the Bucks 35-16 in the third period to seize control of Saturday's contest, then stretched the margin to as many as 40 points in the fourth.
"We learned from that Minnesota game," Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III said after a career night. "(We learned to) just continue to be in attack mode, continue to (keep up) our pace throughout the game, and just not let up."
The visitors got off to a fast start, leading by as many as six in the early going. The Bucks attacked the rim early, getting to the free throw line 12 times before the Pacers even drew a foul.
But Indiana eventually found its groove and strung together some stops to trigger a 10-0 run late in the first quarter that moved the home team back in front. The two teams traded leads in the second quarter, but it was the Pacers who led by a narrow margin heading into the break.
The third quarter, however, was all Indiana. The Pacers scored the first eight points of the period to take a double-digit lead, then closed the period with a 22-5 spurt over the final 5:50 to effectively put the Bucks away.
Indiana shot 60 percent from the field and knocked down 4-of-8 3-pointers in the third and set a new season high for points scored in any quarter after halftime.
"We were aggressive on both ends," forward C.J. Miles said of the pivotal period. "We got out and ran. We got stops and we got our hands on the basketball. When you get stops and create extra possessions for yourself, you can score in bunches like that."
They were nearly as good in the fourth quarter, outscoring Milwaukee 33-19 to close out the win.
"We took our starters out and our second unit really opened the game up even more," Pacers star Paul George said after the win. "I thought they played well, they shared the ball, they moved it around, and they were ready."
Miles led the offensive attack, scoring 13 of his season-high 21 points in the third quarter, going 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from deep over that stretch.
Miles led six Pacers players in double figures.
George finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Jordan Hill had a season-high 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and 11 boards. Second-year forward Glenn Robinson III set a career high with 17 points off the bench, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range. Chase Budinger added 13 points, while Monta Ellis added 12.
Budinger got the start on Saturday because point guard George Hill continues to battle an upper respiratory infection. Hill, who missed the last two games, dressed for Saturday's game but head coach Frank Vogel said he only would play him in an "emergency" situation.
Hill was able to watch this one as a spectator, as his teammates cruised to victory.
Greg Monroe was dominant for the Bucks in the first half, recording a quick double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, seven of them coming on the offensive end, but added just one rebound in a little over eight minutes in the second half. Jabari Parker and O.J. Mayo were the only other Milwaukee players to reach double figures, both finishing with 10 points.
The Pacers hit the road again on Tuesday night to take on the Washington Wizards before returning to Indianapolis to host the Chicago Bulls next Friday.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers set numerous season highs in the victory, including points in a game (123), points in a half (68), field goal percentage (.516), 3-point percentage (.500), 3-pointers made (15), margin of victory (37 points), and tied their season high for assists (28).
Indiana's 37-point margin of victory tied for the 12th-biggest win in franchise history. Indiana has only won by a wider margin once in the last decade, a 39-point win over Denver on Feb. 10, 2014.
The Pacers also set a season high for bench points with 53 — led by 37 from Jordan Hill and Robinson — and outscored Milwaukee's reserves by 12.
Hill's double-double was his third of the season, two behind George for most on the team.
Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey returned to the lineup after missing the past four games with a sprained ankle. Stuckey played 21:58, finishing with seven points and five assists.
Pacers forward Lavoy Allen finished with six points, eight boards, and a season-high five assists.
You Can Quote Me On That
"He’s committed to winning and he knows rebounding wins. There’s a lot of stars out there who don’t want to do the dirty work. He loves playing the complete game. He’s a special player. Every time we go deep on our bench because of injuries, guys step up." -Vogel on George's commitment to rebounding
"We’re just learning and we’re really far from where we started. Everything is starting to come together and we’re getting a better feel for one another." -George on the Pacers, winners of eight of their last 10
"My teammates are giving me confidence. I’m getting some extra shots up after practice, late at night. I’m just going out and being confident, thanks to my teammates." -Robinson III
"We didn’t give any effort. They punched us in the mouth and we didn’t do anything about it." -Bucks guard Khris Middleton
"Any time you have to handle a situation that faces adversity, we kind of crumble. And we crumbled tonight. In the second half, we did not execute defensively and offensively missed some easy shots in the first half. That kind of dictated us not to play defense in the second half." -Bucks head coach Jason Kidd
Stat of the Game
The Pacers outscored Milwaukee 68-35 in the second half, shooting a blistering 63.4 percent from the field and 8-for-14 (57.1 percent) from 3-point range after halftime.
- The Pacers have now won eight of their last nine games against Milwaukee at The Fieldhouse.
- Indiana is now 6-0 on the season when Jordan Hill scores in double figures.
- Pacers rookie guard Joe Young missed Saturday's game for personal reasons.
- Bucks forward Chris Copeland, who played for the Pacers the last two seasons, entered the game in the fourth quarter to a nice ovation. Copeland finished with three points in 10:15.
Indiana has two days off before traveling to Washington for their first game of the season against John Wall and the Wizards on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:00 PM.