INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After a back-and-forth first half, the Indiana Pacers decided it was time to turn up the defensive pressure.
That resulted in a quick start to the third quarter and the Pacers held Milwaukee to its lowest scoring output this season to earn their third straight victory, a 102-78 win over the Bucks on Friday night.
“We wanted to stop playing around and just go out there and play aggressive and get this win,” Indiana’s Roy Hibbert said. “Defensively we just turned it up.”
Tyler Hansbrough had a season-high 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead Indiana.
“I feel like I’m trying to get in the flow of the game and not rushing anything,” Hansbrough said. “I just cut and got some easy baskets.”
Hansbrough is starting in place of injured forward David West, who missed his third straight game because of a lower back sprain.
“Some guys are just more comfortable starting, getting in the rhythm of the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I’m not sure what it is, but I’m glad for Tyler and for us.”
Vogel said before the game that West is improving, but still is having a hard time walking because of the injury and won’t play at Chicago on Saturday.
Indiana is 3-0 against the Bulls this season and has a six-game lead on them in the Central Division.
Paul George added 20 points and Roy Hibbert had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks for the Pacers.
Monta Ellis had 22 points and Samuel Dalembert had 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bucks, who have lost five of seven.
“Nobody could get a shot to go down,” Dalembert said. “Our shooting percentage was real low. Some guys had bad shooting games today and it gave Indiana opportunities to score at the other end. And the game just got out of hand.”
The Pacers went on a 14-4 run to start the second half and take a 61-48 lead midway through the third quarter.
Larry Sanders was ejected with 7:54 left in the third when he was called for a double technical after Hibbert was fouled on a shot.
George hit both technical free throws and Hibbert scored two more to make it 57-47.
Hibbert sparked the run to start the second half. He scored three baskets and Hansbrough had another. Ellis hit a jumper, Marquis Daniels made two free throws and the Pacers led 53-47.
After Sanders was ejected and the Pacers took a 10-point lead, George dunked to make it 61-48 with 5:29 left in the quarter.
Indiana led by as many as 19 points in the third when Hansbrough sank two free throws with 3:14 left to give the Pacers 67-48 advantage.
“We really started playing defense and getting out and running,” George said. “The momentum just went crazy after that.”
They led the rest of the way.
The Bucks scored just 11 points in the third quarter, tying their fewest points scored in a quarter this season.
“We had a hard time responding,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “Their defense was intense and we didn’t react well, so that’s a concern.”
The game was back and forth in the early going and neither team could pull away before halftime.
Ian Mahinmi was fouled and converted the 3-point play to give the Pacers a 38-37 lead with 6:35 left in the first half.
Sanders scored to make it 37-36 and Mahinmi scored again to give the Pacers a 38-37 lead before Henson hit a jumper to give the Bucks a lead again, 38-39 with 5:38 left in the second quarter.
Hansbrough made a steal and dunked on a fast break with 28 seconds left in the half to give the Pacers a 45-43 lead at the break.
The Bucks took a 9-4 lead early in the game before the Pacers went on a 6-0 run to go in front. Hansbrough and George dunked and Hill made a layup to give the Pacers a 10-9 lead with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
Later, the Bucks jumped ahead 23-19 when Dalembert and Ekpe Udoh hit back-to-back jumpers. But Hibbert scored on a put-back and George made a layup to tie the game at 23 at the end of the first quarter.
NOTES: Pacers F Danny Granger was out with a sore left knee. … Bucks F Luc Mbah a Moute was out with a sprained toe. … Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova was out with left hip pain. … The Bucks’ second lowest scoring output also was against the Pacers, in a 95-80 loss on Jan. 5.