You know the story. The Indiana Pacers fell behind double-digits in the first half (18), had too many turnovers (19), and when the team mounted a comeback in the fourth, the opposition matched them for a check mate.
After the Pacers climbed back to within six points with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks stopped the last-minute charge by rolling off seven unanswered points that put the game out of reach and handed the Pacers their 10th-straight loss on the second night of back-to-back sets. The Bucks downed Indiana 93-81 on Saturday.
The Bucks, which have won five of their last six games, found their offensive firepower in the paint instead of the perimeter as talk-of-the-town rookie Brandon Jennings had an awful night from the field (2-of-10 shooting). Andrew Bogut scored 21 points and Luc Mbah a Moute added 18 points as Milwaukee pounded the Pacers in the post, outscoring the blue and gold 36-16 down low.
Milwaukee even received a giant spark off the bench from aged veteran Jerry Stackhouse, who torched the Pacers for 14 points off wide-open jump shots. While Stackhouse provided a throwback night for a wild and rowdy crowd in Milwaukee, T.J. Ford offered some flashbacks as well in front of his former team. The recently benched point guard received extended playing time with the absence of Earl Watson and Luther Head, and Ford picked up crunchtime minutes after rookie A.J. Price, who started the game, had to leave with a concussion with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter. Ford finished with a season-high 20 points, while Danny Granger added 14 points. Ford had a great game. He was active on both ends of the court, displayed thoughtful precision with his passing and ran the offense with his scoring.
Ford's good game, which could help sell Ford in trade talks leading up to the trade deadline (fingers crossed), could present some lineup challenges after the All-Star break for coach Jim O'Brien. Mike Wells reported through Twitter immediately following the game that "O'Brien says after the game that there's no way he's playing three pt guards when Watson gets back. Stay tuned, things will get interesting." Interesting indeed.
Check out the jump for notes about tonight's loss.
- Troy Murphy looked positively awful tonight as he was even more tentative than usual on offense and, of course, helped with the lack of inside intensity needed to stop Bogut and Mbah a Moute on the defensive end. Murphy missed his usual double-double by scoring only six points, but he did grab 11 boards.
- Besides Granger scoring 14 points (on 5-of-14 shooting), he led the team with five assists. Granger led the Pacers comeback in the second quarter to keep things interesting by halftime. He hit two laser-guided 3-pointers that were reminiscent of a confident, 3-swishing Danny from last year. Unfortunately, his shooting never took off in this game.
- The Pacers were outrebounded by 10 tonight, as well as allowing the Bucks to nab 10 offensive boards, compared to the Pacers only collecting four for extra possessions on offense.
- Roy Hibbert didn't get too many opportunities to be the catalyst on offense as usual when JOB is on the sidelines, but when he did get to shoot, the center made the most of it. He made 5-of-7 shots for 10 points and four rebounds. Hibbert dug his own hole tonight with foul trouble issues yet again.
- After Price left the game in the third quarter, O'Brien had to dig even deeper in the point guard pool. He found Travis Diener awaiting some playing time. Diener played three uneventful minutes in front of a hometown crowd.
- Brandon Rush hit a sweet-looking bank shot early in the game and it looked like the start of a good offensive showing for the shooting guard. But Rush was soon invisible again as he quietly made only 2-of-8 shots for five points.