Bucks beat Pacers to avoid elimination

Published 1:02 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis each scored 29 points and the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks kept their season alive by routing the Indiana Pacers 115-92 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on Tuesday night.

Portis had the highest point total of his playoff career and added 10 rebounds to make amends two nights after he got ejected from a Game 4 loss. Middleton had his third straight game with at least 25 points, and he also contributed 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Pacers still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday in Indianapolis. The Pacers are trying to advance beyond the opening round for the first time since 2014.

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Milwaukee, which has never won a series in which it 3-1, made sure the Pacers wouldn’t clinch anything Tuesday. The Bucks held Indiana to its lowest point total of the season and won without injured stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard as the Fiserv Forum crowd chanted “Bucks In Seven.”

Antetokounmpo has missed this entire series and hasn’t played since straining his left calf on April 9. Lillard sat out a second straight game after injuring his Achilles tendon in the Bucks’ 121-118 Game 3 loss on Friday.

The Bucks won anyway, thanks to a balanced effort.

Malik Beasley scored 18 points. Pat Beverley had 13 points and 12 assists, and sparked a second-quarter run that put the Bucks ahead for good.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 16 points to lead the Pacers. Myles Turner added 13. Obi Toppin, Aaron Nembhard and Pascal Siakam had 12 each.

Two nights after shooting 22 of 43 from 3-point range in Game 3, the Pacers went 7 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes and led 31-21 late in the first quarter.

But the Bucks responded with an 18-2 run as Beverley continually irritated the Pacers — to the delight of the crowd.

Shortly after a Middleton 3-pointer put the Bucks ahead for good, Toppin was called for traveling in front of Milwaukee’s bench. As Beverley tried to grab the ball from him, Toppin shoved the Bucks guard and drew a technical foul.

On the Bucks’ ensuing possession, Beverley hit a short jumper while getting fouled by Haliburton. Beverley did a particularly showy version of the “Too Small” taunting gesture before sinking his free throw to complete a three-point play that gave Milwaukee a 39-33 lead.

Beverley scored 12 points in the second quarter, helping the Bucks build a 53-48 lead at the half. The Bucks then scored the first nine points of the third period to make it 62-48.

Indiana got the margin down to nine midway through the third, but the Bucks outscored the Pacers 20-8 over the next 5½ minutes to put the game away.