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Pacers 104, Bucks 102

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MILWAUKEE — Forward Chris Copeland scored a season-high 18 points and dropped in a layup with 1.2 seconds left, and a team of reserves led the Indiana Pacers to a 104-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Indiana snapped a two-game losing streak despite playing without all five of its regular starters, who were rested by coach Frank Vogel.

Copeland scored 10 of his points and hit two of his four 3-pointers in the final quarter, and he finished 7-for-8 from the field in 17 minutes. His previous top scoring total this season was 13 points on Nov. 16 against the Chicago Bulls, and he began play Wednesday average three points per game.

The Pacers shot 48 percent from the floor despite playing without guards George Hill and Lance Stephenson, forwards David West and Paul George and center Roy Hibbert. Indiana (54-25) moved a half-game ahead of Miami (52-25) in the race for the top record in the Eastern Conference. The Heat lost 107-102 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Forward Luis Scola played a season-high 31 minutes, and he led Indiana with 24 points and nine rebounds. Guard Evan Turner added 23 points.

Milwaukee, which lost its sixth game in a row, rallied late to put a scare into the Pacers. The Bucks (14-64) tied the score at 102 when forward Khris Middleton sank three free throws with 4.9 seconds to play.

Guard Brandon Knight scored 10 of his 25 in the fourth and gave the Bucks a 95-94 lead on a 17-footer with 2:26 to play.

Guard Ramon Sessions scored nine in the period and finished with 20 for the Bucks, who shot 43.7 percent and went 4-for-16 from 3-point range.

Middleton finished with 16 points, while Jeff Adrien set a career high with 17 rebounds and chipped in 13 points.

The Pacers came into the game having lost seven of their past 10. They have already clinched a playoff berth and the Central Division title.

Still, Vogel opted to rest his starters in advance of Indiana’s showdown with the Heat on Friday night in Miami.

“We played a disturbing game against the Atlanta Hawks last week,” Vogel said. “We need to change our focus and make some adjustments even if this is a drastic move to get ourselves playing right.”

All but Hibbert, who was inactive, were dressed for the game, but Vogel said he would not use them under any circumstance and informed the league of his decision Wednesday morning.

NOTES: Bucks C Larry Sanders began his five-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy Wednesday. Sanders was suspended for a third positive marijuana test earlier this month but has played in just 23 games due to injuries. Sanders’ suspension will cover Milwaukee’s last five games, making him able to open the season in 2014. … Milwaukee has a three-game “lead” over Philadelphia (17-61) in the chase for the worst record in the NBA and the best chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. … Indiana earned its sixth straight win against the Bucks and prevailed for the 11th time in the past 13 meetings. … Bucks F Jeff Adrien has scored in double-figures in his last four games, tying a career high set earlier this season. … Indiana had lost six consecutive road games before Wednesday, and the Pacers were outscored by 12.2 points the previous six games overall.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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