Blame it on the Indiana Pacers being on a second night of a back-to-back or blame it on this being a nationally televised game, but regardless of what excuse you might enjoy the most, the bottom line is that they were thoroughly beaten down by the Milwaukee Bucks in the worst possible way.
The Pacers turned a wire-to-wire victory against Memphis into a wire-to-wire loss against Milwaukee, quickly falling behind by six out of the gate. The Pacers would do well to keep the game within double digits in the first quarter, but the combination of Milwaukee’s shooting and superior rebounding effort couldn’t sustain if the Pacers had any hopes of actually winning this game.
Unfortunately, neither area improved all that much, as the Pacers, doing all they could to prevent the game from getting blown wide open, found themselves on the wrong side of a 23-7 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a 23-point one. Indiana had a respectable response, going on a 10-1 run late in the second to close the gap to 14, but the two empty possessions to follow were killer, eventually leading to a Bryn Forbes three that allowed the Bucks to hold a 17-point lead at the break.
Out of the half, the Pacers had a genuinely terrible third quarter, not only defensively in allowing 38 points (bringing their second and third point totals to 77), but offensively as well, totaling just 21 points. Domantas Sabonis had 15 in the quarter, one in which only he and Malcolm Brogdon scored until the final 35 seconds when Doug McDermott made a layup to bring the lead down to 34.
The lead would swell up to 40 early in the fourth, giving the garbage time Pacers a chance to cut that lead in half, wrapping up the disappointing 130-110 loss to the Bucks. Overall, the Pacers weren’t handed any favors getting to face a rested Bucks team on the road just 22 hours after last night’s tip, but they had entered the game 3-0 in second night games, making this just a plain bad loss.
The Bucks put on an absolute clinic offensively, hitting 21 threes, nearly doubling up the Pacers, who were 11-34, but also getting four three point plays. The Pacers were not only overwhelmed defensively, but they really allowed Milwaukee to find themselves defensively despite being a league average defensive team this year after two years at the top of the NBA.
In all the muck, Sabonis found himself having a solid offensive game, scoring a career high 33 points with 12 rebounds, including 3-5 from three point range. Five Pacers reached double figures in total, but Justin Holiday was the leading scorer among the other four with 15, a far cry from necessary support in this type of game.
Malcolm Brogdon finished with 12 points and three assists, both season lows, as he struggled to find success against Jrue Holiday and the Bucks defense, while also being one of many casualties to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s effortless triple double. Myles Turner in particular couldn’t get stops against Antetokounmpo, getting just a single block against him in a three point, two rebound outing, finishing with a team worst -32 in plus/minus fun.
The role player support was touch and go with J. Holiday and McDermott scoring in double figures, doubled with Jeremy Lamb following up a scorching night with an 0-5 for two points performance. Aaron Holiday did get to double figures himself with 11, but was just 3-12 shooting, including 1-7 from deep.
The Bucks were able to tee off against the Pacers tonight, leading to their fifth straight home win over Indiana. Though Indiana has picked up a couple of wins against Milwaukee in the last three seasons, their losses tend to look a lot like this. Including tonight, the Pacers are -20.1 points in their seven losses, not a single game coming closer than 17 points.
Indiana will return home for a pair of games, beginning with a Friday night matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans have struggled since their loss to Indiana, but the nature in which they did lose will no doubt bring an extra bit of fire to the rematch.