For the second game in a row, a second half comeback attempt by the Milwaukee Bucks came up short. Monday in Orlando, it was led by the bench crew. Wednesday at home vs. the Indiana Pacers, it was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
Antetokounmpo and Parker's dunk-filled third quarter wasn't enough in the Bucks' 97-92 season finale against the playoff-bound Pacers. The combo combined for 36 points (Giannis 19 to go with nine boards and five assists, Jabari 17 and seven rebounds) and were the only two Bucks players to score in double-figures against Indy until garbage time minutes.
The Bucks once trailed by 24 points — including 19 in the first — after a sluggish and careless start to the game that saw them shoot in the low 30s early on. At halftime, they had dug themselves into a 62-46 hole after the Pacers locked in from deep, going 7-of-12 from the 3-point line, and turned up defensively.
Antetokounmpo and Parker were determined (this is the last game of the season, so determined is a stretch) to get the Bucks out of their funk, though. Near the end of the third quarter, Parker sparked a 14-3 spurt to help the Bucks trim Indy's lead to six, 76-70, entering the fourth.
"I thought that group in the second half played with a lot of energy and effort." Jason Kidd said. "They got the game a little more manageable. They made plays but we didn't make shots at the end."
The Pacers quickly responded, though, hitting two back-to-back 3-pointers and rebuilding a comfortable lead. As the quarter continued, Indy did just enough to keep the Bucks away and notch win No. 45 of the season after Kidd elected to insert most of the team's bench down the stretch.
— The Bucks' loss paired with losses by the Nuggets and Kings means those three will finish tied for the 8-9-10 slots in the lottery at 33-49. The league is expected to determine the order of who gets which slot via random draw on Friday, though the three teams' chances in the lottery will be more or less the same (read: slim). Because of the tie, the 56 total lottery combinations allocated to the 8-9-10 slots (28, 17 and 11) will be pooled and divided three ways. The 8/9 teams will get 19 combinations each (1.9% chance of winning the lottery, 6.8% chance of a top three pick) while the #10 will get 18 combinations (1.8% chance of top pick and 6.5% top three).
— Damien Inglis entered the game shooting 28.1 percent on the year including just 1-for-11 from three. But he had his jumper working tonight, hitting 4-of-5 shots including two threes en route to a career-best-tying 10 points in 20 minutes.
— Solomon Hill scored 12 of his season-high 25 final points in the first half. He also hit a career-high seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts.
— Rashad Vaughn's jacked up a lot of shots with this being the last game of the regular season. Not many of them fell, though. Vaughn went 4-of-14 from the field and just 2-of-8 from deep.
— Khris Middleton took the night off and only logged eight minutes.
— Parker scored 15+ points in 24 of 28 games after the All-Star break.