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Pacers stumble in second half in 99-85 loss at Bucks

Indiana was outscored 54-35 in the second half against Milwaukee, leading to another frustrating road loss. Paul George had 18 points.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A quick start wasn’t enough for the Indiana Pacers, as a disastrous third quarter doomed them in a road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. After sweeping the Pistons on Wednesday, it’s only fitting for this Pacers team that they’d now set themselves up to be swept by the Bucks two nights later.

The Pacers jumped up double figures out of the gate and led by eight late in the second, but that didn’t last with the Bucks hitting a three to close the half. In the first two quarters, the Buckets outscored Indiana 5-0 in end of quarter buckets, but in addition to that, also scored on the opening possession of the second and third quarters, giving Milwaukee nine points the Pacers couldn’t account for.

In the third, the Pacers defense disappeared, sending the Bucks to the free throw line for 11 attempts, while Indiana had just three, missing all of them. When they weren’t getting to the line, Milwaukee had an easy layup line against the porous Indiana defense, featuring Al Jefferson in the starring role, allowing the Bucks to win the third 29-18.

In the fourth, the Pacers had ample opportunities, but missed shots and turnovers kept them from getting any closer than three as they dropped a disappointing, but expected loss. After scoring 50 first half points, the Pacers had just 35 second half points, needing almost 20 second half minutes to reach 30 points. The Bucks wound up outscoring Indiana 19-7 at the line in the second half.

Turnovers were a problem for both teams, but the advantage came for Milwaukee, outscoring Indiana 22-18 in points off turnovers. All the while, water found its level from beyond the arc for the Pacers, who went 2-18, missing their last 16 attempts, keeping them from finding easy offense in a game where they finished with their second lowest output of the season.

Jeff Teague kept the Pacers alive in the third, but without the stops, his contributions were minimized, as he finished with 17 points. Monta Ellis also played well off the bench, scoring 12, but unlike Milwaukee, who had a big night from Greg Monroe and solid play late from Jason Terry, there was no help for Ellis off the bench.

Lavoy Allen and Rakeem Christmas helped Indiana win the rebounding battle early, but neither found much run in the second half as Nate McMillan shortened his bench, giving extended time to Jefferson instead. After a series of good shooting nights, Paul George came back down, scoring 18 on 5-14 shooting, blanking in the third, scoring seven in the fourth.

The Pacers remain in 6th place, but continue to waste opportunities against teams they need to put away. They sit just 1 12 games up on Milwaukee and are two ahead of the Miami Heat, who they’ll host on Sunday, another team they’re on the verge of being swept by this season.