GAME RECAP: Bucks 117, Pacers 89
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Milwaukee past Indiana on Sunday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Milwaukee past Indiana on Sunday.
Dec. 22, 2019 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Doug McDermott speak with the media following Indiana's 117-89 loss in Milwaukee.
Despite the Pacers’ (20-10) best efforts, they could not pull off the upset at Fiserv Forum, and fell to the Bucks 117-89.
Game Rewind: Pacers 89, Bucks 117
Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 7:00 PM ET at Fiserv Forum
Winners of five straight, Indiana packed its bags and headed North to take on the NBA's current top team, the Milwaukee Bucks in search of a season-high sixth win in a row.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee (27-4) was as tough as advertised. Despite the Pacers' (20-10) best efforts, they could not pull off the upset at Fiserv Forum, and fell to the Bucks 117-89.
A 10-0 run to open the game sent Indiana in front for the entirety of the first quarter. But, Milwaukee made it a fight in the second. After 13 second-quarter lead changes, Milwaukee used a late 6-0 run – aided by the NBA's most accurate 3-point shooter in George Hill – to grab a 59-55 halftime lead.
Indiana's night would turn for the worse after the halftime break. A disastrous third quarter would put them in a hole in which they would never recover. The Blue & Gold managed to cut the once 21-point deficit to nine early in the fourth. But Milwaukee would then connect on five consecutive 3-pointers in a 2:36 span midway through the period to secure things early.
Indiana was outscored in the second half 58-34.
Five Pacers ended up in double figures in the loss. Domantas Sabonis leading the way with 19 points and snagged 18 rebounds for his 24th double-double this season. Doug McDermott, Indiana's most accurate shooter of the night, finished with a bench-high 15 on 6-of-9 shooting. For Milwaukee, former Pacer Wesley Matthews led the way with 19. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo fell one assist shy of back-to-back triple double performance, finishing with 18 points, a game-high 19 rebounds, and nine assists.
In his first game against his former team, Malcolm Brogdon recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 10 assists.
You couldn't have asked for a better start from Indiana, though. A pair of threes from Sabonis and Aaron Holiday anchored a 10-0 Indiana run to open the game. After Milwaukee started the game 0-of-5 from the field, Brook Lopez connected on a 3-pointer with 9:05 remaining to end the surge.
A few moments later, Antetokounmpo's fast-break dunk would spark back up the Bucks' offense. A 3-pointer from Matthews on the right wing cut the Pacers lead to 12-8 with 7:15 left in the frame.
But Indiana would respond with with a T.J. Warren trey to push its lead back to 17-10 and force Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout just past the midway point of the quarter.
Out of the timeout, Milwaukee managed a 7-2 run over the next 2:24 to pull within one possession (19-17, before Pacers head coach Nate McMillan called a timeout.
For the remainder of the quarter, both teams hit a cold streak. The Blue & Gold hit just two of their last 13 shots of the period. A T.J. McConnell 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining would provide the final points of the first for Indiana. With 9.3 seconds remaining, Antetokounmpo muscled his way to an emphatic dunk off a Donte DiVincenzo missed tip-in to bring the Bucks to within one, 22-21, and time expired.
After having zero lead changes for the entire first frame, the teams traded leads seven times and accumulated three ties in the first four minutes of second-quarter action. A tough three-point play from Sabonis in the paint put Indiana ahead 36-33 with 7:59 left in the half.
But the Bucks responded quickly. After a quick bucket by Robin Lopez, Antetokounmpo continued to find success on the offensive glass, connecting on a tip-in from his own miss to put the Bucks back ahead 37-36.
Milwaukee would use his tough put-back to spark a quick 8-2 spurt to extend its lead to 45-38 on former Pacer George Hill's 3-pointer, but the Blue & Gold responded with an 8-0 run to grab a 46-45 lead. With 4:35 remaining in the half, Myles Turner was left all alone at the top of the key for a three, and he happily obliged to taking the lead.
With the Pacers trailing 54-53, Aaron Holiday was called for a questionable grabbing foul rather than a moving screen on Antetokounmpo. In typical "ball don't lie" fashion, Khris Middleton fumbled the ensuing inbounds play, leading to a one-handed, fast break slam that pushed the Pacers ahead by one with 1:36 to play.
But Milwaukee would close out the quarter strong, scoring six straight points to grab the four point lead at halftime. With 25.9 seconds left Hill, the NBA's current 3-point shooting percentage leader, connected on his third trey of the half to close out the first-half scoring.
The Bucks would then use a 14-4 run in the opening minutes of the third to grab a 73-59 lead over the Pacers. With 7:03 remaining, Brook Lopez connected on a tough layup to complete the run and force McMillan to call a timeout in an attempt to stop Milwaukee's momentum.
The Blue & Gold ended a 3:27 scoring drought after Tuner connected on one-of-two free throws at the 5:48 mark of the period to make the score 75-60. But the Bucks kept on the onslaught. With 3:18 left in the third, Pat Connaughton finished a 3-point play off a fast break to push Milwaukee's lead to 21, 83-62. Through the first 8:32 of the quarter, Indiana had just nine third-quarter points.
However, Indiana was determined to make this a game. For the last 3:18 of the quarter, Indiana used a cavalcade of threes, one each from Edmond Sumner, McDermott, and Sabonis, to cement an 11-0 run and trim a 21-point deficit to just 10, 83-73, entering the final frame.
After trading a few buckets to start the fourth, a McDermott three finally cut the deficit to single digits 78-87, with 9:18 left to play. But that would be the closest they'd get.
The Bucks would counter with back-to-back threes from Antetokounmpo and Connaughton to quickly send the Pacers back into a 93-78 hole.
After McMillan's timeout, the Bucks would connect on three more consecutive 3-pointers to push Milwaukee's lead to 102-82 with 6:32 left on the clock. The barrage would essentially put the game on ice.
An emphatic fast-break dunk from Antetokounmpo with 3:20 remaining would put an exclamation point on Milwaukee's incredible fourth quarter. At that point, Indiana had pulled its starters in order to prepare for their game against the Raptors tomorrow night.
The Blue & Gold scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Inside the Numbers
Milwaukee smashed Indiana on the boards 61-48. It's the seventh time in eight games Indiana has been out-rebounded.
The Pacers connected on just 37-of-100 (37.0 percent) shots for the game. It's their third time this season shooting less than 40 percent from the floor and the second time against the Bucks
Indiana's 16-point fourth quarter was its second-worst fourth-quarter performance of the season. They scored 15 in the fourth against the Knicks on Dec. 7.
You Can Quote Me on That
"It was sustaining it. You know, there's another level that you have to get to in order to play in games like this. This is the best team in the league. I thought we did for two quarters, but it's a four-quarter game, and you've got to be able to sustain that. In the second half they were stronger and better." – Nate McMillan on the difference between the first and second half
"They do a really good job on collapsing in on you in the paint so it's hard to get some of those floaters and midrange shots up. It was a little bit of an adjustment. You got to hit threes if you want to beat these guys, and we didn't get enough. We have to keep on that. They're a great team. We'll see them again. We just got to keep working." – Doug McDermott on the Bucks' defense
"It was great to be back in Fiserv [Forum]. These fans have been amazing to me. They were amazing to me tonight. They've been amazing to me the past three years. I'm just incredibly thankful for them and this city." – Malcolm Brogdon on coming back to Milwaukee.
Stat of the Night
Indiana's 34-point second half was its worst second-half performance of the season. The 58-34 discrepancy was also a season-low.
- The Bucks have won 21 of their last 22 games.
- Doug McDermott has finished in double figures in seven of his past 10 outings.
- Indiana took exactly 100 shots for the second time against Milwaukee this season.
The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Kyle Lowry and Toronto Raptors on Monday, Dec. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »