Antetokounmpo, Middleton pace Bucks past Pacers 117-98
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and Khris Middleton added 27 to help the Milwaukee Bucks bounce back from their first consecutive losses of the season with a 117-98 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
Milwaukee, which improved to an NBA-best 49-16, was coming off back-to-back losses to Utah and Phoenix after opening a five-game road trip with three victories.
The Bucks gained control with a 12-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter. Kyle O’Quinn opened the final period with a floater from the lane to bring the Pacers within 10 at 84-74. Ersan Ilyasova hit a 3-pointer to trigger the run, capped by Antetokounmpo’s drive to make it 96-74 with 8:21 left.
Myles Turner had 22 points and Bojan Bogdanovic 17 for the Pacers.
Bogdanovic hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull Indiana within three points at 67-64. But Milwaukee responded with 13 consecutive points, pushing the lead to 80-64 on Antetokounmpo’s dunk with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
The Bucks opened their largest lead of the first half at 47-33 on two free throws by Antetokounmpo, but the Pacers went on a 17-7 run to close within 54-50 at the break.
Pacers: Indy’s two-game road trip to Milwaukee and Philadelphia has important implications in the standings. The Pacers entered the game in third place in the Eastern Conference at 42-23, one game ahead of the Sixers.
Bucks: Rookie guard Donte DiVincenzo, sidelined for almost two months with a heel injury, was available for Thursday night’s game against the Pacers. DiVincenzo, who was averaging 4.8 points and 15.6 minutes, is not likely to be back in the rotation immediately. DiVincenzo played slightly more than six minutes in the first half, then scored five points in the closing minutes.
Indiana is at Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Bucks host Charlotte on Saturday.