ARTICLE BY JEREMY HOOD
INDIANAPOLIS – As impressive as they have performed this year, the Indiana Pacers have still seemed to struggle to play well against the current Eastern Conference 8th seed, Milwaukee Bucks. The blue and gold have only defeated the Bucks once out of their three meetings this year, making tonight’s fourth game a target on the Pacers radar screen.
It wouldn’t be easy though, as the 2nd seeded Pacers would face some diversity, as they were once again without David West, who is still nursing a lower back sprain he suffered against the 76ers last Sunday. However, with his absence came an inspiring performance by none other than Tyler Hansbrough. The former all- American for the North Carolina Tar Heels led the Pacers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, including an emphatic fast-break dunk just before halftime, as the Pacers would trample the Bucks this time 102-78, sending the fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse home happy.
After a close battle in the first half that consisted of 15 ties and 14 lead changes, the Pacers came out of the locker room on fire, going on a 22-5 run to start the second half.
Six foot eleven center Larry Sanders for the Bucks was ejected with 7:54 left in the third quarter when he was called for a double technical after not being happy with an official when he was called for fouling Pacer Center Roy Hibbert, who also had a stellar performance contributing 11 points 8 rebounds.
Following the Sanders ejection, Paul George followed up by hitting both of the technical free throws as Hibbert would then add two more buckets upon getting the ball back to make it a ten point lead.
The Pacers led by as much as 19 in the third quarter and would not trail for the rest of the game giving the blue and gold their third straight victory since defeating the Cavaliers last Monday evening. This victory tonight also ends the season series between these two Eastern Conference foes at two games apiece.
The Pacers will be now have their sights on a three game season sweep, as Head Coach Frank Vogel and crew will now travel to Chicago for what should be a tough Central Division showdown with the Bulls inside the United Center on Saturday night before returning back home to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host the Atlanta Hawks the following Monday night.