Monday, January 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET on the Fiserv Forums
TJ McConnell put on a first-half show Monday afternoon in Milwaukee and scored a career-best 25 points before halftime. He went 9-on-9 from the field and 4-on-4 from 3-point range to push Indiana to a 76-65 lead at the break.
Unfortunately, McConnell and the Pacers (23-22) ran out of gas in the second half as the Bucks (28-16) scored 23 3-pointers and clinched a 132-119 win. It was Milwaukee’s ninth straight win against Indiana overall and also her ninth straight win at the Fiserv Forum against the Pacers, who are yet to win at the arena since the 2018-19 season opened.
Myles Turner had 30 points for Indiana on 11-of-17 shooting (5-of-9 from 3-point range), eight rebounds and four blocks back in his first game after missing the last three contests with back spasms .
McConnell added 29 points, five rebounds, nine assists and three steals from the bench, setting career highs for points and 3-point matches.
But after two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and All-Star forward Khris Middleton were out with knee pain, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday stepped up to lead Milwaukee to victory. The veteran point guard had a game-high 35 points, went 13-to-19 from field and 5-to-8 from 3-point range, and also dished out 11 assists.
The Pacers were in control for most of the night, leading by as much as 13 points. But Holiday and the Bucks fought back with a barrage of 3-pointers. The hosts were five points down at the start of the fourth quarter and took the lead less than two minutes into the final frame.
Back-to-back threes by Jordan Nwora and Grayson Allen gave Milwaukee a 10-04 lead, 101-100, the Bucks’ first lead since the first quarter.
The Pacers responded with four straight points to baskets from Andrew Nembhard and Jalen Smith, but Milwaukee snapped back the lead after another three from Allen with 8:18 to go. Buddy Hield and Nwora then traded triples and the lead before two back-to-back buckets from Holiday gave the Bucks a five-point cushion.
The Pacers cut the deficit to three three times over the next minute and a half, but each time the Bucks responded.
Pat Connaughton eventually emptied Milwaukee’s 23.3 pointer of the night with 4:28 remaining and Bobby Portis added two free throws at 3:34 to push the Bucks’ lead to 122-114.
Aaron Nesmith made a much-needed three at 3:22 to pull the Pacers back within five, but after a timeout, Brook Lopez found the other end. The Bucks won a jump ball at the other end, and Holiday then sealed the win with a jumper at the other end.
Hield finished with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in the loss, going 5-to-10 from 3-point range. Bennedict Mathurin joined him in double figures, scoring 12 points and eight rebounds, but the Pacers slacked off down the stretch.
It was a disappointing end after a promising start. Turner made an instant impression from the opening strike, scoring nine points on 3-of-3 shooting and blocking a shot in his first seven-minute stint.
The first quarter was a hard-fought affair, with six draws and three lead changes. The Pacers eventually shot forward thanks to a seven-point 12-3 run — including a rare 3-pointer — from backup point guard TJ McConnell. The guests took the lead at 32:25, with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Milwaukee climbed back within one behind a 7-1 sprint that included a four-point play from Nwora and a deep three from rookie AJ Green, but Blue & Gold finished the quarter strong.
McConnell set up Isaiah Jackson for an alley-oop dunk with 4.4 seconds left, then came in with a steal from the ensuing inbound, somehow kept his balance on tiptoe along the sideline and calmly dumped another three right in front of the Indiana bench when the buzzer sounded to give the visitors a 38-32 lead after one.
McConnell and the Pacers stayed hot in the second quarter. The eight-year veteran converted a knight at the 9:37 mark, a three-point play at 9:13 and emptied his third three-pointer of the game at 7:02.
After a dunk from Hield – another rare sight – at 5:46, McConnell drilled his fourth 3-pointer at 5:23 – the first time in his career he’s made four three-pointers in a single game. Turner’s breakaway dunk at 4:12 pushed Indiana’s lead to 63-50 and forced a Bucks timeout.
Brook Lopez knocked down a three and Jrue Holiday dumped two more in the closing minutes, but McConnell and the Pacers continued to respond at the other end. McConnell struck twice more to put up 25 points – already surpassing his career high – then he found rookie Nembhard in the right corner for a three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to give the visitors a 76-65 lead in the to bring a break.
The Bucks reduced the deficit to 81-75 after Portis’ knight jumped less than four minutes into the third quarter. The Pacers then brought McConnell back and he immediately provided a spark, setting up Turner for a three-point game and then connecting with Hield for the second of his back-to-back three-pointers as Indiana put on a quick 9-3 run to push the Marge back to two digits.
However, Milwaukee kept coming back. The hosts slowly fought back, culminating with Holiday’s 3-pointer by 10.2 seconds in the third quarter that cut Indiana’s lead to 95-93.
Once again, McConnell and the Pacers closed out a quarter with flair. McConnell hurtled down the floor and joined Oshae Brissett in the left corner for another three-pointer that gave the visitors a five-point advantage in the fourth quarter.
But the final frame belonged to the Bucks, who outplayed Indiana 39-21 in the final 12 minutes.
Portis had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for Milwaukee. Lopez added 19 points and six boards, Allen registered 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Nwora notched 14 off the bench while going 4-on-4 from 3-point range.
Antetokounmpo missed his third straight game for the Bucks with a sore left knee. Middleton has not played since December 15 due to right knee pain.
The Pacers, who have now lost four straight games, will continue their four-game road trip Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. They will also visit Denver and Phoenix over the weekend before returning to Indianapolis.
In the numbers
Turner reached 30 points for the fourth time this season. He also blocked four shots for the ninth time and has accomplished the feat four times in his last seven games.
After failing to make a three-pointer in Saturday’s loss to Memphis, Hield hit back with five three-pointers against Milwaukee. He now has 175 3-pointers in the season, the most in the NBA. Before Saturday, he had made at least a three-pointer in 43 consecutive games to start the season and in 55 consecutive competitions dating back to last year.
The Pacers hit their season-high with 76 first-half points, shooting 60.9 percent from the field and going 12 to 22 (54.5 percent) from 3-point range.
The Bucks went 23-for-46 from 3-point range on the night. Those 23 threes were the most by a Pacers opponent this season and one of the most ever scored by an Indiana opponent. That record was set by Milwaukee, who hit 24 3-pointers against Blue & Gold on March 21, 2022 and was equalized by Charlotte on January 26, 2022. Seven different Bucks scored at least two 3-pointers and five three or more on Monday.
The Pacers were 19-to-40 (47.5 percent) from beyond the arc itself. Monday’s 42 combined 3-pointers was the most ever scored in a game with the Pacers and two just short of that NBA record set on May 7, 2021 in Milwaukee in a game between the Bucks and the Rockets.
state of the night
McConnell was sensational in the first half, topping all career highs for points and 3-pointers set before halftime. His 25 points in the first half was two more than his previous career best, which he set against Milwaukee on May 13, 2021, and he made four 3-pointers in a single game for the first time ever (he had three 3-pointers achieved). Pointer on seven occasions, including vs Orlando on Nov. 21).
McConnell’s 25 points Monday was the most by a Pacer in the first half of this season.
- The Pacers’ most recent win over the Bucks came on February 12, 2020 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Milwaukee won the season series with Indiana in 2020-21 and 2021-22 and has now won the first of four games in the 2022-23 season.
- Indiana has yet to win at the Fiserv Forum and is going 0 to 9 in the building. The Pacers’ most recent win in Milwaukee came on their last visit to the now-demolished Bradley Center on March 2, 2018.
- The Pacers are now 20-5 on the season in games where they led by double digits.
After a four-game road trip, the Pacers will be back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET to host DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls. Find tickets >>