NBA News Wire

Pacers 101, Bucks 96

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INDIANAPOLIS — Center Roy Hibbert scored a game-high 24 points and had 12 rebounds on Thursday night, powering the Indiana Pacers to a hard-fought 101-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

If the Central Division-leading Pacers were expecting an easy night from the team with the worst record in the NBA, they did not get one against the Bucks (11-46).

The Pacers (44-13) rallied from a six-point deficit in the third quarter. Hibbert began to take charge in the quarter with eight points and two offensive rebounds.

And with 51 seconds remaining in the game, Hibbert added a powerful basket inside to give the Pacers a nine-point lead.

Forward Paul George added 18 points and a game-high six assists for the Pacers. Indiana guard Lance Stephenson also scored 18 points.

Guard Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 23 points. Forward Khris Middleton added 20 points and forward O.J. Mayo came off the bench to score 14.

The win kept the Pacers two games ahead of Miami in the race for the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers hit eight of their nine shots from the field and grabbed a nine-point lead less than six minutes into the game. George led the fast-paced attack with nine points and four assists in the first quarter as the Pacers pulled ahead 30-15.

Mayo brought the Bucks back with a shooting clinic in the second quarter. He hit three consecutive 3-pointers and scored 10 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, closing a 15-point Pacers advantage to three.

A 7-0 run to end the third quarter, concluding with a jump shot by George in which the ball hit the rim and bounced up and then down through the net, gave the Pacers a 73-66 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Pacers never trailed after that.

NOTES: Pacers C Andrew Bynum continues to work out with the team in practice, but coach Frank Vogel is not sure when Bynum will play in a game. Bynum, who is recovering from a knee injury, signed as a free agent on Feb. 1 after the Chicago Bulls waived him. “We know what we can expect from him when he’s healthy and in shape. He’ll be one of the best centers in the NBA,” Vogel said. … The Pacers rank No. 1 in the NBA with 35.2 defensive rebounds per game. … In terms of playing time, the Bucks have the second youngest lineup in the NBA, trailing only the Philadelphia 76ers. Their starting lineup on Thursday night included three 22-year-olds: G Brandon Knight, F Khris Middleton and G Nate Wolters. … Bucks F Jeff Adrien has been coming strong off the bench. For the first time in his career, he posted back-to-back double-figure rebounding games against Indiana and Philadelphia.