INDIANAPOLIS — Winless in three tries against the Milwaukee Bucks this season, the Indiana Pacers knew they had their work cut out for them Thursday night. But, with playoff positioning on the line Paul George refused to go down.
The all-star led Indiana with 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers overpowered the Bucks for a 104-89 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The win temporarily moved the Pacers back into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with Miami idle.
“We’ve played really good these last two games at home,” George said. “We’re figuring some consistency out.”
The two home wins came on the heels of a four-game losing streak that saw Indiana go from solidly-in to fighting for their playoff lives. With three games remaining, Indiana still needs either Chicago or Miami to lose at least once to have a shot.
For the second straight game, it was the second half that allowed Indiana to pull away. After carrying a six-point lead into the halftime break, the Pacers used a 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to gain some distance.
The Pacers struggled to contain Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half, but the Indiana defense tightened up down the stretch, allowing George to take over the game.
“These past few games we’ve tightened up on the defensive end.” George said. “We made the game a lot easier for ourselves by creating offense off of our defense.”
Aiding in the victory off the bench were Lance Stephenson and Kevin Seraphin, who notched 11 points off of the bench in extended minutes due to injuries and foul trouble for Myles Turner.
“We were working together and we were connected tonight,” Seraphin said. “We played as a team and we just kept getting stops. We just did a good job and we need to keep playing.”
Indiana has three games remaining in the regular season, all of which appear to be must-wins. The Pacers travel to Orlando on Saturday and to Philadelphia on Monday for a pair of games against non-playoff teams. They will return to Indy on Wednesday of next week to wrap up the regular season against the Atlanta Hawks.
Austin Miller is the Indiana Pacers beat reporter for the Indiana Sports Report and student at Butler University and is recognized as an accredited member of the media and has full media access. Follow @MillerTimeXII and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter for Pacers coverage all season long.
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