INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points, 15 rebounds and six assists and the Milwaukee Bucks wore down the short-handed Indiana Pacers in a 142-133 victory Thursday night.
Indiana dressed just 10 players due to injuries and didn’t have a defensive answer for Antetokounmpo, the two-time NBA MVP who made 14 of 18 shots from the field — six on uncontested dunks — and hit 11 of 16 free throws.
The Bucks moved within a game of the Brooklyn Nets for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 playoff seed.
Khris Middleton added 22 points, Brook Lopez had 21, and Jrue Holiday finished with 20 points and 14 assists.
Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the pivotal third quarter, when the Bucks outscored the Pacers 40-30 to build a 13-point lead.
Four of the seven ruled-out Pacers were starters, then All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis came out after tweaking his left knee in the third quarter. Sabonis had 10 points, 14 assists and six rebounds when he sat down.
Despite the lack of bodies, Indiana kept pace for a half with 3-pointers. Justin Holiday hit six in the first quarter as the home team took a 39-38 lead into the break. He didn’t hit one in the second quarter, but the Pacers had 13 3s by halftime and trailed just 69-66.
Holiday led the Pacers with 26 points. T.J. McConnell added 23, and Doug McDermott and Oshae Brissett each had 19.
Bucks: Made 23 of 31 free throws while the Pacers converted 12 of 15. Milwaukee was whistled for just 10 fouls to the Pacers’ 22.
Pacers: McConnell, who started for the injured Malcolm Brogdon, suffered a sprained left thumb and missed about the last four minutes of the second quarter. He had his left hand wrapped to start the second half. … Clinched a play-in berth Tuesday and are a half-game ahead of Washington for the ninth seed.
Bucks: Host Miami on Saturday night.
Pacers: Host Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.