(AP) — The slumping Milwaukee Bucks have already beaten the Indiana Pacers twice but both of those games were played on their home floor.
For Saturday night’s matchup, the Bucks have the more daunting task of traveling to Indianapolis, where the Pacers have won six in a row.
Milwaukee snapped a five-game skid to Indiana with a 99-85 win Nov. 14, and Brandon Jennings’ season-high 34 points paved the way for a 98-93 victory Dec. 18. The Bucks, though, have lost back-to-back games at Indiana, including a 118-109 defeat in their only visit last season.
Milwaukee (16-15) doesn’t appear poised to snap that skid as it’s lost a season high-tying three in a row and blew an 18-point lead in a 115-101 home loss to Houston on Friday. The Bucks could never recover after being outscored 30-14 in the third quarter, and while they had seven players in double figures, Jennings was the team leader with 16 points.
“It’s almost the second half of the season,” Jennings said. “Teams are going to start turning it up a notch and we need to, also.”
Milwaukee hasn’t dropped four in a row since Feb. 11-17, and would appear to face a stiff challenge as it attempts to avoid matching that skid. The Pacers (19-14) are on their longest home win streak since an eight-game run Feb. 27-March 30, 2010, and have won nine of 12 overall.
However, Indiana was also blown out 94-75 on Friday in Boston while shooting 31.8 percent, their worst performance in two seasons. David West was the only starter in double figures with 10 points – on 4-of-18 shooting – while Tyler Hansbrough was the only other player to reach double digits with a season-high 19.
Hansbrough, who has a history of concussions, also survived a flagrant foul to the face from Celtics star Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter.
“I took a shot in the head,” Hansbrough said. “I had to take care of myself. I wasn’t really concerned about retaliating at the time. I was just making sure I was OK.”
D.J. Augustin was limited to six points after totaling 35 in his first two starts in place of an injured George Hill (groin).
“Shots just weren’t going down for us. I mean, we had a lot of good looks. And it was just one of those games where it was just lopsided. You know, we couldn’t get shots to go in and they were making everything,” said swingman Paul George, who had nine points on 4-of-18 shooting after topping 20 in back-to-back contests.
Hill, who is listed as questionable for this game, had a team-best 18 points in the loss to Milwaukee in December, and 22 in the last meeting in Indiana. David West had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers in that win, while Brandon Jennings (27 points) and Mike Dunleavy (23) led the way for Milwaukee.
The Bucks are the only division opponent to beat the Pacers in Indiana’s six matchups with Central foes this season.