Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the wrong side of history against a feisty Indiana Pacers side
The Indiana Pacers now find themselves third in the Eastern Conference after nine games played after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 126-124 in a game that had a thrilling end. It actually seemed like the Pacers would stroll to a victory in the beginning, because the Bucks didn’t have Damian Lillard available due to a back-to-back.
The Pacers built an early 18-point lead, but the Bucks roared back thanks to a superhuman performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished the game with 54 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. The Greek Freak shot 19 of 25 from the field and 16 of 18 from the free throw line in the losing effort, which will sting more because Antetokounmpo became the first player to lose a game while dropping over 50 points and 10 rebounds while shooting over 75% from the field.
The loss against the Pacers again calls into question the Bucks’ lack of depth early in the season, especially with Khris Middleton still facing a minutes restriction. It was a similar situation just yesterday, where the Bucks barely beat the Detroit Pistons after Damian Lillard was left alone on the court thanks to Antetokounmpo bizarrely getting ejected after celebrating a dunk.
The Pacers were the complete opposite and were able to rely on a balanced offense for the victory. They had three starters score at least 21 points, led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 29 points, six rebounds, 10 assists and a block. Haliburton also hit the go-ahead three-pointer that put the Pacers in the lead for good.
Haliburton was capably backed up by Benedict Mathurin, the second-year player drafted sixth overall. Mathurin finished the game with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He’s showing that his confidence last season was warranted.
Myles Turner had a solid offensive game as well with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. You couldn’t say the same for his defense, because he was the primary player assigned to guard Antetokounmpo.
Haliburton, Mathurin and Turner also all shot at last 42% from beyond the arc and combined for 12 of the Pacers’ 20 threes. It’s already the fourth time this season that the Pacers have hit at least 20 three-pointers, again showing how much of a handful their high-octane offense can be.
There’s no doubt that this Pacers team has talent, but now it looks like they’re starting to put things together. This third-straight win comes on the heels of a 134-118 victory against the Utah Jazz and a 152-111 destruction of the San Antonio Spurs.