Pacers at Bucks

GAME RECAP: Pacers 109, Bucks 96

Victor Oladipo scores 15 points and dishes out 5 assists as the Pacers defeat the Bucks, 109-96.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 109, Bucks 96

Victor Oladipo scores 15 points and dishes out 5 assists as the Pacers defeat the Bucks, 109-96.
Jan 8, 2018  |  01:16

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Jan. 8, 2018

January 8, 2018 - Players Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner give their thoughts on their impressive victory over the Bucks on Monday.
Jan 8, 2018  |  02:08

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Jan. 8, 2018

January 8, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan spoke to the media following Indiana's 109-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan 8, 2018  |  06:17

Oladipo Caps the Third

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  05:18

Oladipo Races for the Finish

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  04:58

Sabonis Finishes Inbound Lob

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  05:32

Lance to Leaf

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  06:25

Pacers Share on the Break

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  05:35

Turner Fastbreak Throwdown

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  06:04

Thad Finishes Give-&-Go

January 08, 2018: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Jan 8, 2018  |  05:01

Game Rewind: Pacers 109, Bucks 96

Monday, January 8, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Game Recap

Just five days ago, the Pacers were in a funk, mired in a five-game losing streak after a 122-101 loss in Milwaukee.

What a difference a few days make.

The Pacers (21-19) exacted revenge on the Bucks (21-18) on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, putting together their second straight dominant performance in 109-96 victory. Indiana initially snapped its five-game skid with a 125-86 dismantling of the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

The obvious difference over the past two games has been the return of leading scorer Victor Oladipo, who had missed four consecutive contests with a sore right knee. But the dramatic gap in the Pacers' performance extends far beyond any one player.

Simply put, the Pacers have rediscovered their swagger.

The Pacers had made a bad habit of falling behind early thanks to lackluster defensive efforts in the opening minutes, but they were locked in on that end in the first quarter on Monday.

Indiana forced the Bucks into eight turnovers and blocked five shots in the opening frame. Their defense was the key to a 20-0 run in the latter half of the period, as the Blue & Gold held Milwaukee scoreless for a nearly six-minute stretch from the 6:08 mark until TJ Leaf fouled Giannis Antetokounmpo with 25.7 seconds left in the frame.

"Just playing on both ends," Oladipo said about the Pacers' fast start. "Turning it up on the defensive end. When we get stops and (can) run out, we're a pretty good team."

21-year-old center Myles Turner was an early catalyst on the defensive end, protecting the rim with three blocks, but also jumping in passing lanes on the perimeter for two steals, the latter of which he finished with an emphatic, one-handed slam on the break.

"We knew that this team was going to try to score in the paint a lot with cut-throughs," Turner said. "We wanted to make it a focal point to establish our charge, establish how we were going to play from the jump."

The Pacers led 37-16 after the first quarter and extended their lead to as many as 27 points in the second. Indiana shot 65.1 percent in the first half and held the Bucks to a 32.4 percent clip on their way to a 64-38 halftime lead.

Indiana did enough to hold the Bucks at bay after halftime. They forced four more turnovers in the third quarter and got timely baskets on the other end, like Oladipo's buzzer-beating, step-back jumper that gave the hosts an 88-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan was able to rest his starters for most of the fourth quarter and despite a late Bucks rally to trim the final margin, Indiana cruised to another comfortable victory.

Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Turner added 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in just 24 minutes to go along with six rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Oladipo chipped in 15 points, five assists, and three steals, while Thaddeus Young had 15 points and eight boards.

Darren Collison (11 points and seven assists), Bojan Bogdanovic (11 points and four assists), and Cory Joseph (10 points and five assists) also finished in double figures for Indiana.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton led all scorers with 19 points and also tallied five rebounds and four assists. Antetokounmpo, who entered the night second in the NBA in scoring at 29.1 points per game, managed just 17 points on 3-of-8 shooting, though he did go 11-for-14 from the free throw line.

The Pacers continue a four-game homestand by hosting the Miami Heat on Wednesday and will welcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers back to The Fieldhouse on Friday.

Wednesday's game marks the official midpoint of the Pacers' season, and the team is already starting to pay attention to the Eastern Conference standings as the playoff picture begins to come into focus.

"We know we're going to be playing against the teams and it's going to mean something down the road," Collison said. "Even against Miami, we might be playing for a (playoff) spot. These games are going to come back to haunt us if we don't take care of business, so we want to do that right now."

Inside the Numbers

Sabonis' double-double was his eighth of the season, the most of any Pacers player.

Indiana outscored Milwaukee 60-42 in the paint and 24-16 in fastbreak points on Monday.

After shooting 55.8 percent from the field in Saturday's win over Chicago, the Pacers posted a virtually identical field goal percentage on Monday at .557.

The Pacers had 30 assists on 44 field goals on Monday, their fifth game this season with 30 or more assists.

Milwaukee made three of its last five 3-point attempts in the closing minutes after starting the game just 4-for-22 from beyond the arc.

You Can Quote Me On That

"I thought we came out aggressive tonight and defensively challenged every catch. We had better pressure defensively and I thought we did a good job of establishing our defense, which forced some misses and (we were) able to get out in transition." -McMillan on the strong start

"We just turned it up, helping the helper, going out there and just having each other's back. We definitely looked united on defense and I think that was huge for us." -Oladipo

"I think we've been playing a lot more physical than we had been in that tough stretch that we had. Nobody is really caring about who is scoring the ball right now offensively, so the game is a lot easier." -Collison

"Frustration set in early for us. Turnovers led to them getting some easy baskets and then we missed a couple shots. We started to get away from passing and trusting each other." -Bucks head coach Jason Kidd

"The difference was playing hard, playing together down the stretch and getting stops at the defensive end. Indiana is a team that pressures and tries to make us uncomfortable, force us into bad decisions and they did. We let it affect us with turnovers." -Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon

Stat of the Night

The Pacers defense stifled Antetokounmpo. The MVP candidate failed to score 20 points for just the second time in 37 games this season on Monday and the first time since being held to 14 points in a loss in Charlotte on Nov. 1. His three made field goals on Monday were a new season low, two less than he made against the Hornets.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers and Bucks play again in Milwaukee on March 2 and in Indianapolis on March 5.
  • Sabonis had his left wrist in ice after the game after injuring it in the closing minutes of Monday's contest, but said afterwards he did believe it would keep him out of the lineup on Wednesday.
  • The Pacers honored legendary coach John Wooden, who starred as a player at Martinsville and Purdue before going on to win 10 national championships at UCLA, at halftime of Monday's Hickory Night game.
  • The Pacers are 2-0 in their new white Hickory uniforms. They will wear them six more times this season.

Up Next

The Pacers welcome Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »