The worst team in basketball took on one of the best Saturday night as the Indiana Pacers faced off against the Milwaukee Bucks. This was the second time these two teams faced this season, with Indiana winning the previous game at home by the score of 104-77. This game was fairly different, mainly because Brandon Knight did not play in that game (hamstring).
Both of these respective teams made changes to their rosters at the trade deadline. Indiana acquired both Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, meanwhile Milwaukee brought in Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Turner didn’t travel with the team to Milwaukee as he was completing his physical according to coach Frank Vogel. On the other side, Sessions and Adrien both made their Bucks debut in the first quarter.
In the first quarter, Adrien started his Bucks stint out strong on three straight possessions. After cleaning up a jump shop under the basket, he followed that up nailing a shot of his own, followed by a nice inside lob to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Despite his good start, Adrien quickly picked up two fouls. Indiana led the game after the first quarter by the score of 27-18 and shot an efficient 50% from the floor. David West chipped in 11 points.
The second quarter wasn’t much different as Indiana went on a 12-0 run midway through and led 44-22. For Milwaukee, Brandon Knight was the main (or only) major contributor for the team scoring the basketball. Knight had 18 points with less than four minutes left in the half and finished with 20 when the half ended. Indiana led 51-39 heading into halftime with David West leading all Pacers players with 13 points, while Paul George registered 11. The Pacers went on a 17-7 run to end the half.
The Bucks started the third quarter in ideal fashion. Brandon Knight continued from where he left off by making a three on the team’s first possession. Knight helped start an 11-2 Bucks run to cut Indiana’s lead to just three points midway through. Yet, the Pacers once again proved why they’re one of the best teams in the NBA. As the quarter progressed, Indy continued to hit shots from the outside and prevented Milwaukee from taking the lead. After three, they led 75-68 and Paul George led the team with 24 points.
The fourth quarter was a tough one for Milwaukee as they struggled with the discipline aspect of basketball. O.J. Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson and Jeff Adrien all picked up five fouls in the quarter. Milwaukee cut Indiana’s lead to just seven with under seven minutes to go in the quarter but Lance Stephenson continued to kill Milwaukee down the stretch. Stephenson contributed 15 points for the Pacers in the fourth quarter alone. The Bucks narrowed Indiana’s lead to just seven again, but still couldn’t capitalize. The Pacers spoiled an energizing halftime performance from Coolio and Homecoming for Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson by defeated the Bucks by the final score of 110-100.
“I thought we had opportunity, but we didn’t capitalize.” Larry Drew said after the game. “We didn’t execute very well and had a couple of defensive breakdowns. Against good ball clubs you can’t make those mistakes.”
Without rim protector Larry Sanders, David West dominated down in the post all night. During the game, he connected on the block for Indiana on three straight possessions. “I think in that situation you have to pick your poison. It’s always tough when the matchups aren’t in your favor. Playing against David West we tried to double-team him and again, they made the passes out and knocked the three down. In those situations you have to keep the guessing,” Drew said.
Besides a rough night from George Hill (zero points) and Roy Hibbert (4 points, 1-of-9 shooting), Indiana’s starting-five came up big. Paul George finished the game with 32 points, Lance Stephenson finished with 24, and West scored 30.
Brandon Knight recorded 30 points for the Bucks on the night while dishing out eight assists. With Nate Wolters tweaking his ankle and missing time, Knight spent time at the shooting guard spot for Milwaukee during the game, a role that he’s always been familiar with. “It’s something I’ve been doing and something I’ll continue to do here and there just to get off the ball. I don’t mind, at the end of the day it’s just playing basketball, so I’m comfortable doing it.”
Jeff Adrien finished with six points and pulled down 11 rebounds in his Bucks debut after playing 18 minutes. “I felt good, the coaching staff did a good job getting (Ramon) Sessions and I use to the plays, offense and defense, rotations, so it felt good.” Sessions played 23 minutes and ended the night with seven points in his return to the Bucks. But Sessions definitely feels he will soon bring more to the team in the coming days.
“Just leadership, I’m one of those guy who has been around for a while, I’m one of the veteran talents, so just showing these guys that we can build something going into next season.” Sessions said.
The Bucks finished their six-game home trip tonight. They will get back on the road to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, and then will face the Pacers once again next Friday. They will return back home next Saturday to take on the Brooklyn Nets.