The Indiana Pacers needed an extra period to put the Milwaukee Bucks into the loss column, but coming away with the 109-103 win was not lack of reward given the flow of the game and the difficulties Indiana had with turnovers and foul trouble. The Pacers committed 20 turnovers on the night, eight of them coming in the first period. On the night, the Bucks converted 20 points off turnovers, nearly enough to put them over the top for the win.
Milwaukee capitalized off of turnovers and also got to the free throw line at will in the first quarter, shooting 11-12 and building a 31-19 lead after the first quarter. Fouls continued to come in downpours in the second quarter, but the Pacers managed to even out the disparity and close the lead down to two at the half, trailing 53-51.
The Pacers continued to flirt with taking the lead, but despite taking one point leads, weren't unable to sustain it until Rodney Stuckey gave the Pacers a 69-66 advantage with four and a half remaining in the third. Back to back three pointers from C.J. Watson and C.J. Miles pushed Indiana ahead by eight, maintaining a 82-74 lead after the third quarter. Indiana opened up offensively in the second and thirds, outscoring the Bucks 63-43 in the middle two quarters.
To open the fourth, the Pacers had a real chance to put the Bucks on their heals, going up by 10, but a missed jumper by Luis Scola turned into five straight points from Giannis Antetokounmpo put Milwaukee right back in business. After watching the lead shrink to one, Rodney Stuckey helped push Indiana back up five, but misses, turnovers, and questionable foul calls gave Ersan Ilyasova and the Bucks a chance to tie the game at 96-96, with misses on both ends sending it to overtime.
The Pacers entered overtime with three starters boasting five fouls, and they suffered their first casualty when Ian Mahinmi was whistled for his sixth on the first possession of overtime, an elbow to Zaza Pachulia that was ultimately ruled a flagrant one, giving Milwaukee a two point lead and the ball. Indiana came up with a crucial stop and got a big time three from Miles, who pushed Indiana ahead 99-98.
The three kicked off a 9-0 run by the Pacers, which put them ahead 105-98. Milwaukee weren't able to overcome the deficit in the final two minutes, with Indiana holding on for the 109-103 win. For as frustrating as points in the game were for the Pacers, they came up big in the overtime period in order to seal their seventh straight win. The Pacers didn't hold Milwaukee under 90 points, but did hold them under 40% shooting at 38.5%.
Both teams were surely bogged down throughout the night by the frequency of foul calls. The two teams combined for 60 fouls on the night, and it's a surprise only Mahinmi managed to foul out (after being the only starter to have zero fouls in the first half). The Mahinmi flagrant, which came from Pachulia connecting with Mahinmi's elbow, shows the murkiness on the call given lack of intention when an Antetokounmpo strike to George Hill's head was only ruled a common foul.
Regardless, Indiana managed to come away with a key win against Milwaukee, who sits above them in the sixth spot. The win pushes Indiana to within 3 1/2 games of the Bucks with 18 games left to play. While Indiana's scorching winning percentage likely won't continue at this clip, the Pacers have put themselves in great position to not only make the playoffs, but avoid both Atlanta and the second seed (which while currently held by Cleveland, is still up for grabs).
Rodney Stuckey led Indiana once again to the win, totaling 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Stuckey got to the line 10 times, hitting his final eight. Stuckey scored 15 of his 25 in the second half and overtime and leading another bench win, with Indiana outscoring the Bucks bench 52-10. This came despite no-shows from Lavoy Allen and Damjan Rudez, who totaled zero points and one rebound in their limited minutes.
Allen saw time due to Roy Hibbert sitting out with an elbow injury, giving way to Ian Mahinmi, who despite fouling out, was a big part of Indiana's play, scoring eight points, but grabbing 10 rebounds and swatting away four shots. David West also had two blocks, and despite being limited much of the night with foul trouble, hit three big time jumpers in the fourth quarter and overtime to help Indiana towards the win despite scoring just nine points.
Luis Scola picked up any slack created from foul trouble, stat stuffing a 17 point, 15 rebound night, keeping the Pacers alive in the first half, but finding himself around the ball the entire night. C.J. Watson was one of three bench players to score, but at 10 points and four assists, hitting a pair of threes, helped Indiana's bench make the difference against a starter heavy Milwaukee team.
For the Indiana starters, George Hill led the way with 17, but did so on an ugly 6-16 shooting, forcing him to come up in other areas, dishing five assists, grabbing four boards, and leading the Pacers with two steals despite playing with five fouls down the stretch. C.J. Miles shot well in his return, drilling four threes as part of his 14.
Indiana's seventh straight win is Indiana's longest since they ran off nine and seven game streaks last season to start 16-1. Indiana's play of late hasn't been far off that, with Indiana posting a 13-2 record since the beginning of February. Not only has Indiana climbed back into the playoff picture, but they've started to entrench themselves, holding a 1 1/2 game lead over Charlotte with two games left in their current home stand.
The Pacers have gotten themselves in the playoffs for the time being, but still have work to do in order to stay there. They'll face the Boston Celtics at home on Saturday, who are 2 1/2 games back and playing well above .500 themselves since the start of February. It's a big opportunity for the Pacers to put distance between them and the Celtics and inch closer to a potential sixth seed.