Milwaukee Bucks can’t stand up to red-hot Pacers in OT


The Milwaukee Bucks have gotten a lot of buzz in the second half of the season for their stunning improvement over last season.

But on Thursday night, the Bucks ran into the hottest team in the NBA and it’s an unlikely suspect.

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The Indiana Pacers won for the 15th time in their last 19 games, taking a 109-103 overtime win from the Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, strengthening their grip on one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

On Jan. 23, the Pacers lost at Miami to fall to 15-30—12th in the East, four games behind the Brooklyn Nets for eighth and just a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic.

Indiana (30-34) is now seventh in the East, 3½ games behind the sixth-place Bucks (34-31), who continue to trend in the wrong direction. Milwaukee has now lost seven of its last 10.

The win was Indiana’s seventh straight.

The Bucks came back from 10 points down early in the fourth quarter to force overtime, tying the game on a free throw by Ersan Ilyasova with 43.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

But Ilyasova missed the second and Khris Middleton’s 18-footer with 1.9 seconds left was off the mark.

The game went to overtime tied 96-96 and Zaza Pachulia put Milwaukee ahead early after a flagrant foul on Ian Mahinmi.

But the Bucks couldn’t capitalize on the extra possession after the free throws and C.J. Miles banged home a 3-pointer on the next Pacers possession to give Indiana the lead for good, part of a 9-0 run that put Milwaukee down 105-98 with 1:49 to go.

Mar 12, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Zach Pachulia (27) dunks against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Jason Kidd let Middleton take the ball upcourt and take the shot at the end of regulation, despite having a timeout available.

“It’s easy to call timeout and set a play,” Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But when your best player has the ball in the flow of the game, you want it to be natural. I thought Khris did everything to get a great look. It just hit the back rim.

“Our defense gave us the chance there. We got the stop and we went in transition and had a great, great look.”

The Bucks played without Jerryd Bayless (sore ankle) and O.J. Mayo (hamstring), contributing to a less than productive night for the bench.

While all five Milwaukee starters scored in double figures, the bench was outscored by Indiana’s reserves by a whopping 52-10.

Rodney Stuckey continued his torrid stretch for the Pacers, leading them with 25 points and six assists. Luis Scola came off the bench for 17 points and 15 rebounds and C.J. Watson scored 10 points in 23 minutes of reserve duty. George Hill (17 points) and C.J. Miles (14 points) were the only starters in double-figures for Indiana, which played without center Roy Hibbert (elbow).

Mahinmi had 10 rebounds for four blocks for the Pacers before fouling out on the flagrant-1 early in overtime. David West blocked two shots and had nine points.

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  • Michael Carter-Williams had his highest-scoring game as a Buck, pouring in 28 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Ilyasova added 19 points and 10 rebounds, Middleton had 18 points but was 6-for-21 from the floor, Pachulia went for 16 points and 12 boards and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 points while going 4-for-14.

    Tyler Ennis had four dimes and six points off the bench in 15 minutes of run.

    The Bucks are now three games in back of the Washington Wizards for fifth place in the East.

    The loss was the first of a three-game road swing for Milwaukee, which visits the Memphis Grizzlies (45-20) Saturday at 7 p.m. Central.

    The Bucks dropped the Grizzlies in their only other meeting this season, a 93-92 win on Nov. 8 in Milwaukee.

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