Box Score | Indy Cornrows
One week, four losses.
With David West and Paul George struggling for the second time in as many nights, the Pacers got all they needed on Saturday night from Roy Hibbert (20 pts, 15 rebs, 5 blk) and their suffocating defense, dominating the Bucks down low and cruising to a 95-80 win in Indianapolis. Milwaukee's fourth loss in as many games drops them to 16-16 on the season, while the win extends Indiana's lead atop the Central to a half game over the Bulls.
By halftime Hibbert had grabbed nearly as many Pacer misses as the Bucks (8 vs. 10), while the Pacers' edge in the paint was already a hefty 36-16 differential. It only got worse from there, as Indy would more than double that advantage to 64-26 by the end of the game. And that seemed about right--even when the Bucks managed to challenge Indiana down low (10 blocks), Hibbert inevitably seemed to finish the second or third chance. It's a worrying trend, especially considering that the Bucks started a big lineup (Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and Luc Mbah a Moute) and also gave major minutes to John Henson for the third straight game with Ersan Ilyasova sidelined by an ankle injury.
Monta Ellis (21 pts on 19 shots, 4 reb, 3 ast, 4 to) helped keep the Bucks in it with 16 first half points, but the Bucks once again stuttered in the third quarter (25-17 Indy) and never threatened a balance Indiana attack in the fourth. Sanders finished with a nice line (12 pts, 6/11 fg, 12 rebs, 4 blk) but couldn't handle Hibbert for much of the night, while Brandon Jennings missed eight of his first nine shots (4/15 fg, 12 pts, 5 ast, 2 to, 3 stl) and generally didn't do much to slow down George Hill and D.J. Augustin. Meanwhile, Henson snagged 13 rebounds and two blocks, but he had a subpar night on the offensive end (1/6 fg, 4/6 ft, 6 pts) and generally struggled with the physicality of Tyler Hansbrough.
Searching for ways to shake things up, Scott Skiles inserted Tobias Harris at the start of the fourth quarter but to little effect. Indiana's offense never really got going, but they never needed to either, as the Bucks shot just 38% for the game and watched Indiana build a commanding 59-39 edge on the boards.