MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jrue Holiday and the Milwaukee Bucks responded to the Indiana Pacers’ fast start with a dominant all-court display.
Holiday had a season-high 35 points and 11 assists for his third straight double-double, and the Bucks rallied to beat the Pacers 132-119 on Monday. The Pacers were leading 76-65 at the break after scoring their highest first-half scoring of the season.
“I think we slowed them down just enough,” Holiday said. “You ran the first half, boy. It was like Golden State trying, like Houston used to do. They ran fast. They ran fast, they shoot 3s. They pretty much got things in the paint and got 3s at the same time.
Neither team was at full strength.
The Bucks played without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for the third straight season due to left knee pain. Indiana was missing leading scorer and NBA assistant leader Tyrese Haliburton for a third straight game due to a left elbow sprain and a minor bone bruise to his left knee.
The Pacers still led most of the way, with Myles Turner 30 points after missing three games with back spasms and TJ McConnell adding a career-high 29 points – including 25 in the first half – plus nine assists.
Milwaukee finally handed Indiana their fourth straight loss by outplaying the Pacers 39-21 in the fourth quarter. Holiday scored 21 of his points after halftime to lead the comeback.
“He’s just an unreal player on either side,” McConnell said. “Should be defensive player of the year for a couple of seasons. And his offensive game, he just plays at his own pace, can score on all three levels. He’s just incredibly good.”
Holiday shot 13 of 19 overall and 5 of 8 from 3-point range. The Bucks went 23 of 46 from beyond the arc and had their most 3 points this season.
Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis said after the game that Holiday deserved to be in the All-Star Game. Holiday’s only All-Star appearance came in 2013 with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Just taking over the game and taking it into your own hands, that’s what Stars do,” said Portis, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds. “They show up every night. And I think he shows up for us every night.”
After falling behind by as much as 13, the Bucks moved 101-100 ahead on Grayson Allen’s 3-pointer with 10:04 in the game, the first time the Pacers have been behind since the opening quarter. Indiana responded with back-to-back baskets from Andrew Nembhard and Jalen Smith.
It was back and forth from there, with five lead changes in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. Jordan Nwora’s 3-pointer with 7:40 left gave the Bucks a definitive 108-107 lead.
Indiana led most of the time thanks to McConnell’s quick start, who scored just 6 points per game.
During his 25-point first half, McConnell shot 9-of-9 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free throw line, while playing 17 minutes.
McConnell was asked after the game when he was last in such a zone.
“Probably high school,” McConnell replied.
Brook Lopez had 19 points, Allen 17 and Nwora 14 for the Bucks. Buddy Hield scored 18 and Bennedict Mathurin added 12 for the Pacers.
Pacers: Indiana shot 60.9% in the first half but 39.5% in the second half.
Bucks: Coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game that no decision had been made as to whether Antetokounmpo would play the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. … George Hill played more than 22 minutes and had nine points and six assists in his first appearance since January 6.
Pacers: Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
Bucks: host Toronto on Tuesday. In their only previous game of the season, the Bucks won 104-101 in overtime on Jan. 4 in Toronto.
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