INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Roy Hibbert wanted to set the tone, so the Indiana Pacers kept going to the big man.
Hibbert had 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots, helping Indiana beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-80 on Saturday night.
It was Indiana’s third straight home win over Milwaukee, but its first victory against the Bucks this season. The Bucks won in Milwaukee 99-85 on Nov. 14 and 98-93 on Dec. 18.
“We knew this was going to be a must-win situation for us,” said David West, who had 10 points and six rebounds. “We’re fighting to stay even with these guys in the season series and stay ahead of them in the standings.”
Hibbert told West before the game he wanted to score the game’s first basket, then went out and did just that. He also grabbed a career-high 11 offensive rebounds — one shy of the franchise record — to help the Pacers extend their home winning streak to seven.
“I just wanted to carve out some space and try to get as many offensive rebounds as possible,” Hibbert said. “Early in the season, I’d catch the rebound and I’d just go back up real soft. (Tonight) I just came back down and took my time, either passing it out or trying to go up and score it tough.”
The Bucks scored the first six points of the third to grab a 53-52 lead. But the Pacers responded with an 8-0 run and cruised from there.
Indiana, which lost in Boston on Friday night, hasn’t dropped consecutive games since falling to Denver on Dec. 7 and at Oklahoma City on Dec. 9.
“A really quality win against a division opponent we needed to get a win against,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “Limiting ourselves to 13 turnovers was a factor, as was our rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass.”
Monta Ellis led the Bucks with 21 points. Brandon Jennings scored 12 points, Larry Sanders had 12 points and 12 rebounds and John Henson collected 13 boards, but the Bucks were outrebounded 59-39 by the Pacers.
“We let Hibbert get loose too much, especially in the paint,” Henson said. “Hibbert really created some problems for us.”
Indiana was helped by the return of George Hill, who had 14 points after missing the previous three games with a groin injury.
The Pacers’ starting point guard could have played Friday night, but wanted to be healthy for the matchup with the Bucks.
“It wasn’t 100 percent, but I’ll take it for what it is and keep trying to get better,” Hill said of playing with the injury. “I felt like today would give me the best chance to play and get a couple days’ rest.”
The seven-game home win streak is the Pacers’ longest since an eight-game streak in 2009-10, but will be tested when defending NBA champion Miami comes to Indianapolis on Tuesday.
“Coach is holding us accountable to protect our home court,” Hill said. “Like he says, this is supposed to be sacred ground, something we have to cherish when other people come into this arena. It takes all of us, and that’s what we’re buying into.”
Lance Stephenson also had 10 points for the Pacers.
Jennings had a season-high 34 points in Milwaukee’s previous win against the Pacers, but was just 4 for 15 from the field on Saturday night.
“It’s been tough on him these two nights with a back-to-back because he’s had tough matchups these last couple games,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Jennings, who had 16 points in Friday’s loss to Houston.
NOTES: It was the Pacers’ 10th win in 13 games and 16th in 23 overall.