Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at BMO Harris Bradley Center
Game Rewind: Pacers 104, Bucks 102
Pacers coach Frank Vogel had tried everything in recent weeks in search of a solution to right the ship. Well, not exactly everything until Wednesday when he made an unprecedented move and rested his entire starting lineup in their 79th game of the season.
Tied at 102 with 4.9 seconds left, Chris Copeland hit a game-winning runner in the lane to lift the Pacers (53-25) past the Milwaukee Bucks (14-63), 104-102. The win snaps a six-game road losing streak and, combined with a Miami loss in Memphis, has the Pacers back atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Vogel’s decision to rest his starters meant five players — Donald Sloan, Evan Turner, Rasual Butler, Luis Scola, and Ian Mahinmi — started a game for the first time this season for Indiana. They got off to an outstanding start, assisting on each of their first five field goals. Halfway through the first period, all five guys had scored.
Luis Scola, who is averaging a little more than seven points per game, scored 12 first-quarter points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and the game was knotted at 25—two points more than the Pacers scored in the first 24 minutes of Sunday’s loss.
It was refreshing to see Indiana’s offense flow smoothly with the ball distributed particularly well. The Pacers assisted on 15 field goals in the first half, seven from Sloan alone, and committed just four turnovers. Shooting below 40 percent as a member of the Pacers, Evan Turner hired a shooting coach in recent weeks and has spent time on his own working, so it was no surprise when he buried three 3-pointers in the opening half and finished with 23 points.
Once the Pacers went ahead by eight, the Bucks used a 9-0 spurt to take the lead for just a short time. Shooting 49 percent, the Pacers had a 53-50 halftime lead.
Indiana had the touch from long range with back-to-back triples from Copeland and C.J. Watson putting the Pacers up six early in the fourth period. A few minutes later, the Bucks went on a 12-3 run and pulled in front by one. The margin for error was slim in the final minutes, which featured five ties and six lead changes.
The Pacers nearly lost the game at the foul line, missing three attempts in the final 18 seconds. With the Pacers up three with 4.9 seconds to play, Ian Mahinmi defended Khris Middleton too tightly beyond the arc and fouled him in the act of shooting. Middleton made all three tries to tie the game, but Indiana still had a chance to get a shot off.
After advancing the ball past mid-court by using a timeout, the ball was sent to Copeland at the top of the arc. He drove inside the lane and got his right-handed runner to fall with 1.2 seconds left. That finished off the Bucks, who didn’t have a timeout to use.
Not only did Indiana get a win without its starters, but the team clearly had fun and chemistry may have been improved in the process. Looking ahead to Miami on Friday, the starters will return and will have had three days to rest and heal up.
Inside the Numbers
Luis Scola led the Pacers with a season-best 24 points and he was just one rebound shy of his second double-double this season. Evan Turner also turned in his best performance in a Pacers uniform: 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, which equals his career-high.
Sharpshooter Chris Copeland made the most of his 17 minutes of play, scoring a season-high 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from downtown. Donald Sloan scored eight points and dished out eight assists without a turnover in 32 minutes.
All five Bucks players scored in double figures, with point guard Brandon Knight finishing with 25 points and 10 assists, both game-highs. Ramon Sessions scored 20 points and forward Jeff Adrien had 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
The Pacers were outscored at the foul line, 22-11, and missed eight of their 19 attempts.
In games this season that were preceded by at least two days rest, the Pacers are 18-1.
“Evan Turner showed what he can do, and almost got a triple-double. We ran most of our offense through him, and he created good shots for him and his teammates most of the night.” – Frank Vogel
“One thing he can do is go score the ball.” – Frank Vogel on Chris Copeland
“I think it’s huge for us. One, obviously it gives some of our banged-up starters an opportunity to rest and heal up. It’s big for our confidence, for the second unit. This is going to take 15 guys to make a run at this thing. I think it’s big for us, for our confidence and knowing that we can play.” – Chris Copeland
“We needed this to get a little confidence to feel better about ourselves. Start to get some rhythm back and we needed a win. So, it’s a good day.” – Luis Scola
Stat of the Game
The Pacers sank at least ten 3-point field goals for the eighth time this season. They made 11-of-24 shots from outside while the Bucks hit only four.
- The Pacers swept the season series with the Bucks, and have won 11 of the last 13 meetings, including six in a row.
- Indiana used just its fourth starting lineup of the season. In contrast, Milwaukee has used 26 different combinations.
- Pacers backup point guard C.J. Watson played for the first time in 14 games, dating back to March 14. The Pacers were 5-8 without him.
- The Pacers’ 26 assists (to just 11 turnovers) is their highest total in 10 games. They are 36-4 this season when dishing out at least 20 assists.
Friday, April 11 at Miami – 7:30 p.m. EST