Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Pacers defense allowed 53 points to Bucks in second half to snap winning streak at three.
The Indiana Pacers have won recently on their defense, but a hot shooting second half from the Milwaukee Bucks put the Pacers in a tough position when they couldn't get the necessary stops and shots to keep the Bucks from pulling away with the win. Indiana led going into the half, but it was a closer game than it should have been due to Indiana turnovers. They committed 20 on the night, leading to 20 Milwaukee points.
Milwaukee flipped the game in their favor in the third quarter, and Indiana was never fully able to recover after a first half shooting over 50%. It was a frustrating kind of night for the Pacers because of the turnovers, and where the Pacers should've put themselves in position to nurse a double digit lead, they led by just three, and the Bucks pounced in the second half behind a big time effort from Brandon Jennings. Jennings finished the night with 34 points, doing so on an almost shockingly consistent 13-22 shooting.
For the Pacers, they just didn't have anyone capable of stepping up and making plays late in the game. George Hill sunk a big three late in the game to cut the six-point Milwaukee lead in half, but he was far from stellar in the fourth quarter. It was the kind of night where guys simply played okay. The starters, that is.
Paul George was just 6-15 for 16 points, but did post a double-double with 10 rebounds, but spent the bulk of the third quarter getting run by Monta Ellis. David West didn't have much luck getting his game going, finishing with 12, and the aforementioned Hill was just 6-16 for a team high 18. Roy Hibbert posted a quality first half with eight points on 4-6 shooting, but was a non-factor offensively in the second half, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds.
The turnovers were mostly costly, but the hustle wasn't quite there with the starters and the defense was beat a ton because of it. There's no one on the Pacers capable of matching up with an effective Brandon Jennings, but there's also no excuse to commit two three-point fouls, which gave the Bucks an extra three points. Guys didn't seem to have their heads with them tonight for whatever reason. The Pacers had nine assists on their first 11 FGs, but finished the night with just 15 assists total.
Add in Indiana struggling to adjust to what was a very tightly called game in the second half, and it just became that kind of night when the Pacers were constantly disrupted, despite a healthy rebounding edge over Milwaukee. The really bad news for what the starters weren't able to put together was that they wasted a pretty good all around effort from the bench. Ian Mahinmi played big tonight with 14 points and five boards, playing better than Hibbert in the second half.
Tyler Hansbrough continues to look very effective on the floor since his brother Ben Hansbrough moved up in the rotation, scoring nine points on 2-2 shooting and grabbing five big rebounds. Ben had a career high of seven, totaling more assists on the night than Hill. Gerald Green pitched in six and Sam Young made some nice defensive plays to help the bench really come together tonight. The starters as a whole can't be expected to play at a lights out level every night, but the bench gave the starters enough punch to allow for them to be a little off. The starters were just a little too off, and it ended up costing them the win.
The Pacers will travel home for the second night of a back-to-back when they host Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana has traditionally struggled against the Jazz, but did win the only meeting between the two teams last year in Indianapolis, and will need to post a better follow-up to avoid falling back to .500.