Oladipo scores 21, Pacers hold on to beat Bucks 103-96
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Victor Oladipo had 21 points, and the Indiana Pacers nearly blew a 17-point lead in the middle of a mistake-laden fourth quarter before holding off the Milwaukee Bucks for a 103-96 win Friday night.
With his team trailing by five, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton missed a corner 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 8.9 seconds left. Bojan Bogdanovic hit two foul shots at the other end to seal it and hand the Bucks their fourth straight loss.
The Bucks nearly stormed back from a 93-76 deficit with 6:34 left. Indiana committed four turnovers during a 12-0 Milwaukee run that tightened what looked to be a blowout.
But the Pacers held on for a key road victory against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff hopeful, erasing the bitter taste of back-to-back losses to 40-loss teams Atlanta and Dallas during the first two stops of a four-game road trip.
Oladipo hit a runner in the lane with 1:13 left for a 98-92 lead to slow Milwaukee’s momentum. He also scored six straight Indiana points during a 14-1 spurt in the third that helped the Pacers build a double-digit edge in the fourth.
Lance Stephenson added 16 points for Indiana, and Bogdanovic had 14 after going 12 of 13 from the foul line.
Middleton led all scorers with 30 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee looked out of sorts at times offensively and alternated near-misses with out-of-control possessions until the near-comeback in the fourth quarter.
It didn’t help Milwaukee that an injury-thinned backcourt also had to deal with foul trouble for starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, who was saddled with two fouls for much of the first quarter and played much of the fourth with five.
A choppy first half ended with the Bucks leading 46-45. The game got off to a testy start after officials called five technical fouls in the last 6:14 of the first quarter, including one each on Stephenson and Milwaukee’s Sterling Brown after the players got tangled up under the basket. At one point early in the second quarter, the teams had combined for 15 fouls and 19 field goals.
Pacers: After an ugly 24-turnover game in a loss Wednesday at Atlanta, Indiana’s 13 turnovers against the Bucks were in line with its season average of 13.4. … Indiana entered 13-16 on the road, matching last season’s win total.
Bucks: Jason Terry made his first start since Jan. 22, 2016, with Houston. The 40-year-old guard blocked three shots for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, with Dallas against Philadelphia. … G Tony Snell missed his second straight game with a bruised right thigh. The backcourt is already thin with Malcolm Brogdon (left quad) and Matthew Dellavedova (right ankle) still sidelined.
Pacers: Wrap up a four-game trip Sunday at Washington.
Bucks: Another important game in the Eastern Conference playoff race when they host Philadelphia on Sunday.