Bucks blow Pacers out with huge first half and remain in first place in Central
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks got off to a fast start and beat the Indiana Pacers for the first time in nearly two years.
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis scored 16 points each to help the Bucks cruise to a 99-85 victory over the struggling Pacers on Wednesday night. Milwaukee had lost five straight against Indiana — including all three meetings last season — since beating the Pacers on Dec. 8, 2010.
The Bucks scored the first seven points of the game and led throughout. The lead was as high as 27 in the second quarter and 32 early in the third before they played their reserves throughout the fourth.
“We realize that as a team we just needed to come in and be the aggressor from the beginning,” said Bucks center Samuel Dalembert, who scored eight points in the first quarter.
Dalembert, in his first season with the Bucks, finished with 14 points, all in the first half. Beno Udrih had nine points, 10 assists and six rebounds for Milwaukee, which shot 42 percent from the field and improved to 2-2 at home.
“It was a team effort. We just got going and we didn’t look back,” Jennings said.
The feud between the teams, who were involved in a couple of ugly on-court altercations last season, continued Wednesday night to an extent when Larry Sanders was called for a flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough in the third quarter. The foul initially left Hansbrough sprawled on the court but he quickly jumped to his feet and moved toward the Bucks’ forward. The two were quickly separated and Hansbrough hit one of two technical free throws.
Both players downplayed the situation after the game.
“That was just a hard foul. I popped back up there, but there was nothing there,” Hansbrough said. “It was a good foul. I do the same thing sometimes when someone has a clear shot. I am going to keep fighting even though we were down, I am still trying to win a ballgame even though it seemed like it was impossible with the amount of points we were down.”
Sanders said he didn’t think he deserved to be called for a flagrant foul.
“Tyler is real physical. It was just a physical play,” Sanders said. “There are no easy baskets down there. I didn’t think it was flagrant.”
Hansbrough scored 17 points for the Pacers, while Gerald Green and Paul George added 12 points apiece. Indiana, which shot 38 percent, lost its fifth straight on the road after a season-opening win at Toronto.
Milwaukee finished with a season-low six turnovers.
“We played some of our best defense in the first half tonight and some of our best offense as well,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We moved the ball well. We didn’t let their bigs get going. Overall, it was a very well played game.”
Even so, Skiles was critical of his team’s effort late in the fourth quarter when Indiana sliced into what had been a huge lead.
“I’m not real happy with the way we finished that game,” he said. “We need to be more professional with the way with finished that game.”
The Pacers’ offense has struggled so far this season as the team adjusts to playing without Danny Granger, its leading scorer of the past five seasons. Granger is out for about three months with a patella problem in his left knee.
“We knew the schedule was going to be tough early,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “We knew adjusting to not having Danny Granger was going to be tough early. We’ve got to overcome it.”
Tobias Harris scored the first five points in the Bucks’ opening spurt. Milwaukee also had a 10-0 run midway through the quarter and held a 33-17 advantage at the end of the period.
The Bucks led 60-34 lead at halftime on 48 percent shooting. Indiana, meanwhile, shot just 32 percent in the first half. Milwaukee’s lead was 82-53 heading into the fourth.
Indiana’s George Hill was whistled for a technical foul for arguing as time expired in the first quarter. … Former NBA player, coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy, father of Bucks G-F Mike Dunleavy Jr., attended the game. … Ellis started despite being bothered by a right thumb injury he sustained in Monday’s victory over Philadelphia. “It was fairly significant yesterday, but not as bad today,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said prior to the game. … Bucks F Drew Gooden was inactive for the game. He has yet to appear in a contest this season. “We’re kind of at a numbers game right now,” Skiles said. “Unless there are definite injuries, the way we are set up right now, we have to have a big guy on the inactive list. We can’t have a guard on there because we don’t have enough guards.”