INDIANAPOLIS – – Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Khris Middleton added 27 points on Monday night as defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks beat Indiana 119-109.
Coach Mike Budenholzer introduced two injured starters – center Brook Lopez and goalkeeper Jrue Holiday – as well as key replacement Bobby Portis. Still, they still had enough oomph to walk away from the Pacers, who have lost three of their first four games under new coach Rick Carlisle.
The Pacers were led by Malcolm Borgdon with 25 points and seven assists. Domantas Sabonis had 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists
It was Middleton’s four-point play to close the score in the first quarter that was a game-changer. He broke a 30-30 tie and Milwaukee never hung around again.
The Bucks extended the lead to 57-46 midway through the second quarter, then saw Sabonis bring the Pacers back, reducing the margin to 60-57 with a rotating layup. But Milwaukee scored the last six points of the first half and used a 12-5 run in the third quarter to take an 83-66 lead.
Indiana reduced the deficit to 107-102 on Justin Holiday’s 3 points with 6:21 left in the fourth but never came close.
Bucks: Grayson Allen went 4 of 9 for 3 points and finished with 19 points. Pat Connaughton had 13 points. â¦ Middleton also had seven assists. … The Bucks had 13 interceptions. â¦ Lopez (back pain), Jrue Holiday (left ankle) and Portis (back pain) weren’t the only players missing from Milwaukee. Guard Donte DiVencenzo (left ankle) and striker Semi Ojeley (left calf) were also absent. â¦ The Bucks have won five straight series wins and are 39-4 against Central Division opponents under coach Mike Budenholzer.
Pacers: Chris Duarte scored 18 points, Justin Holiday finished with 12 and Jeremy Lamb scored 11.â¦ Myles Turner scored five points and four rebounds but only played 14 minutes after struggling with early fouls. â¦ The Pacers held a 47-42 rebound advantage, allowing just seven offensive rebounds. But they had 19 turnovers and were 14 of 36 on 3 points. â¦ Carlisle still needs a win to tie Nate McMillan (183) for third in NBA franchise history.
The game was marred by a brief game of screaming midway through the fourth quarter, which occurred in a draw between Brogdon and Bucks goaltender George Hill under the Pacers basket. But the biggest problem came when Middleton and Goga Bitadze found themselves on the pitch. Bitadze was pulled out of the pile by the seat of his pants. Hill and Bitadze each received technical fouls following a replay.
THIS IS THE SHOES
Turner wore custom-designed shoes in a contest sponsored by Mountain Dew. The shoes came in the colors of the Pacers team, blue and gold. One shoe came with an Indianapolis city flag while the other included Indiana’s nickname and Team Pacers logo.
Bucks: Hosts Minnesota Wednesday.
Pacers: In Toronto on Wednesday in the first of two clashes this week.