Hill scores 24, Pacers beat Bucks 125-104
MILWAUKEE (AP) — With two teams both playing their third game in three nights, George Hill’s big performance off the bench made the difference for the Indiana Pacers.
Hill scored a season-high 24 points and the Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-104 on Saturday night.
It was an impressive rebound for Hill, who was coming off a couple of recent poor shooting performances. “That’s all I could think about last night,” Hill said. “Everybody tells me I’m too hard on myself.”
Roy Hibbert added 16 points and nine rebounds, and credited Hill for making good on a promise to rediscover his shooting touch. Hill was 0 for 5 Thursday at Washington 3 for 7 against Phoenix on Friday. “George had a doughnut the other night,” Hibbert said. “He was talking about it and said he was going to have a great game tonight. Everybody just followed his lead. You have to give it up to him for bouncing back.”
Ersan Ilyasova had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee’s recent trade acquisition, scored 11 points, struggling after scoring nine in the first quarter. Ellis sat most of the fourth with the game well out of hand.
The game included a hard collision, then a minor confrontation, in the fourth quarter between Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy, a former Pacers player, and Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough.
Hansbrough will get an X-ray on his cheekbone on Sunday after Dunleavy was assessed a Flagrant-1 foul for a hard knock that sent Hansbrough to the floor. “Whatever happened, I was upset,” Hansbrough said. “I’m just upset because I got fouled pretty hard. Stuff like that happens.”
Hansbrough appeared to be in some pain as he took a few minutes before getting back up, then missed a pair of free throws. The two players continued to jaw at each other, and later were assessed double-technicals. “Just taking a hard foul on a fast break,” Dunleavy said. “Can’t give up any layups.”
Dunleavy signed with the Bucks after spending the previous four seasons with the Pacers.
The Pacers did much of their damage from the line, making 32 of 39 free throws while the Bucks were 14 of 18. “We want to be a smash-mouth basketball team, which for us is to play a power post game, pound it inside and live at the free throw line,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We don’t always execute that identity, but tonight we did.”
Both teams were playing for the third night in a row. To make matters worse, the Bucks’ team plane wasn’t able to land in Milwaukee after Friday night’s victory at Charlotte, so the team had to land in Chicago and take a bus back. The team didn’t get in to Milwaukee until about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. “We can’t blame it on the travel schedule,” Bucks center Drew Gooden said.
Milwaukee came into Saturday night’s game a half-game behind the New York Knicks for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference; the Knicks won Saturday, giving them a 1 1/2-game lead. The Bucks play at New York on Monday night, and face the Knicks again at home on April 11. “I don’t think just beating the sub-.500 teams will get us in,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We’ve got to beat some other teams that are, record-wise, better than us.”
But that didn’t happen Saturday, as Indiana took control with a scoring spurt in the third quarter. The Pacers led by nine at halftime, but the Bucks were able to cut the lead to six on a 3-pointer by Ilyasova. Indiana went on an 11-2 run from there, taking a 76-61 lead on a pair of free throws by Hibbert with 4:41 left in the third.
Milwaukee’s offense, which has been impressive in its recent hot streak and was expected to be even better with the recent addition of Ellis, scored only three points in a stretch of about five minutes in the third quarter.
The Bucks closed what was otherwise a miserable quarter on a high note, as Jennings hit a rainbow shot from well beyond the half court line at the buzzer. Still, the Pacers led 92-76 going into the fourth quarter.