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Pacers final score: Pacers close out win over Bucks 92-89

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Indiana held on for deer life to beat Milwaukee late, winning their third straight game. Bojan Bogdanovic hit five threes, scoring 29 points.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers extended their winning streak to three games by holding on late against the Milwaukee Bucks. In a familiar story to recent outings, the Pacers were forced to gut out a win despite losing the fourth quarter. In the past three games, the Pacers are 3-0 despite being outscored by 17 in the final quarter.

That’s hardly a recipe for success in the long run, but it does show how key Indiana’s defense has been at the end of these games to close them out. In the final minute, the Bucks and Washington Wizards have gone 1-10 these last three games. Luck has surely been a factor, but luck has proven the perfect companion to Indiana’s fight in these moments.

Tonight, the Pacers found themselves nursing a one point lead in the final minute, down from as many as 15 in the second half. Victor Oladipo had a turnover with under 10 seconds remaining as Bojan Bogdanovic and Cory Joseph chased down Khris Middleton to force the ball out of bounds.

The officials were unable to determine who knocked the ball out, calling a jump ball between Middleton and Joseph. The disadvantage at the jump worked in Indiana’s favor, with Bogdanovic taking advantage of his own height edge over Eric Bledsoe to come up with Middleton’s tip, getting tackled to the ground and hitting both free throws to push the lead to three.

Giannis Antetokounmpo would miss the game tying three after getting a decent look in the corner, allowing the Pacers to hold on, yet again. The flow was familiar, but the Pacers getting to that outcome was much more unfamiliar, especially in regards to Indiana actually winning a game late despite Oladipo offering the Pacers nothing offensively.

Oladipo had the wrong kind of double double, scoring just 14 points on 5-19 shooting, committing 10 turnovers. He had four of those in the closing minutes, looking clearly gassed down the stretch, which led to him going scoreless in the game’s final 20 minutes. Oladipo did have other plays, including another steal and a block late on Bledsoe, including a team high five assists, including a between the legs pass to Bogdanovic for a three.

It was in fact Bogdanovic that lifted the Pacers to the victory, not only with the jump ball play, but in scoring a game high 29 points, shooting 5-7 from three point range. On a night the Pacers needed that kind of output in the absence of Oladipo, it was reassuring that they could find it with Bogdanovic, especially from deep.

The Pacers as a team were incredibly efficient from beyond the arc, going 10-17 as a team. It was just the fifth time all season the Pacers shot above 50% from three point range, keeping them undefeated and moving them to 17-1 when they shoot 42% or better as a team. Bogdanovic’s reliability was huge, but so too was the shooting of Thaddeus Young and Lance Stephenson, who each went 2-3.

Young not only shot better than last night, going 4-8 with 10 points, but continued to prove a problem for Milwaukee in relation to Antetokounmpo. When Antetokounmpo got away from Young and the Pacers, he was the quick, devastating player that’s put him into the MVP discussion, but he was held well below his averages by scoring 18 points on 7-16 shooting, with just two assists and five free throw attempts.

Indiana’s bench also played better in the second half, getting double figure efforts from Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis, who each had 11. Stephenson in particular lifted the crowd to end the third, hitting back-to-back threes to push Indiana ahead by seven, all while being a familiar irritant to the Bucks.

(As a side note, Milwaukee’s attempts to be an irritant to Lance didn’t work as well.)

Indiana’s win was worth celebrating for a number of reasons. Not only do the Pacers continue to come up big late to secure hard-fought wins, they also improve to 6-7 on the second night of a back-to-back, eclipsing their five total wins from last season.

The win also wraps up a 3-1 season series against Milwaukee. The Pacers already held the tiebreaker against Milwaukee win or lose, but this win secured a two game swing in Indiana’s favor, putting them three games ahead of the now 8th place Bucks with 18 to go. In addition, the win gives the Pacers a little extra breathing room for the fourth seed, while keeping within a half game of the third place Cavaliers.

Indiana will continue their three game home stand on Wednesday when they host the surging Utah Jazz. They are expected to see Trevor Booker make his Pacers debut, which can hopefully provide some life if the day off isn’t enough to recover whatever fatigue the team may be feeling after this tough road trip and back-to-back.