NBA playoffs

Pascal Siakam explodes for 37 as Pacers tie Giannis-less Bucks


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Pascal Siakam explodes for 37 as Pacers tie Giannis-less Bucks

SPICY PACER. Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) in the fourth quarter during game one of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Milwaukee Bucks finally feel the brunt of Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence in the NBA playoffs after the Pascal Siakam-led Indiana Pacers roll to a 125-108 Game 2 blowout for a 1-1 tie

Pascal Siakam recorded 37 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and the Indiana Pacers evened their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series with an impressive 125-108 victory over the host Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night (Wednesday, April 24, Manila time) in Game 2.

Myles Turner added 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots for the sixth-seeded Pacers, who snapped a 10-game postseason losing streak dating back to 2018.

Andrew Nembhard scored 20 points, Tyrese Haliburton registered 12 points and 12 assists and Aaron Nesmith had 11 points and seven assists for Indiana, which had 38 assists on 50 made baskets.

“We played with more force and we played with more attitude,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “There were some tough stretches in the game. I like the way we kept our poise and our aggression. And we kept attacking. It’s a long series.

“We’re going to have to find a way to keep our edge. Sitting on a win like this for two days is going to be challenging.

“I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud of the bounce-back.”

Damian Lillard scored 34 points and Brook Lopez added 22 for the third-seeded Bucks. Each player made six 3-pointers.

Milwaukee was again without star Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf).

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Friday in Indianapolis.

“We’ve got to lean on our experiences in the games on their home floor,” Lillard said. “There is going to be ups and downs in every game on the road, so we have to stay connected and stay together and play the game like we’ve been there before.”

Siakam, who made 16 of 23 shots, established a personal playoff scoring mark for a second straight game. He had 36 points in Game 1.

“That’s crazy,” Siakam said about scoring 30-plus points in back-to-back playoff games for the first time in his career. “I wasn’t thinking about that. I’m blessed to be here. … We’re back in the playoffs. I just want to compete.”

Khris Middleton added 15 points and six assists, and Bobby Portis had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, which shot 44.2 percent from the field, including 13 of 32 (40.6 percent) from 3-point range.

The Pacers made 55.6 percent of their attempts and were 16 of 36 (44.4 percent) from behind the arc.

Milwaukee scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to move within 92-88 on Pat Connaughton’s three-point play with 11:17 left in the game.

Indiana answered with eight straight points and 23 of the next 27 to rock the Bucks and open up a 23-point lead.

Siakam scored back-to-back baskets to make it 100-88 with 9:19 remaining.

A short time later, Turner scored five consecutive points to start a stretch of 13 straight Indiana points. Siakam added a layup and Turner and Haliburton drained treys to make it 115-92 with 5:55 left, and the Pacers cruised the rest of the way.

“I thought they were more physical. The reason we were on the floor is because they put us on the floor,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said about the Pacers. “It’s personal. They’re trying to win something we want. We’re trying to win something they want. It’s 1-1. We’d love for it to be 2-0, but it’s 1-1 and we go to Indiana and try to win a game or two.”

Indiana led by five points at halftime and quickly pushed the lead to 69-58 on Nesmith’s 3-pointer with 9:45 left in the third quarter.

The Bucks later scored eight in a row to pull within 79-78 on Lillard’s basket with 3:58 remaining. The Pacers countered with a quarter-ending, 13-5 run with Siakam’s basket with 22.1 seconds left accounting for a 92-83 advantage entering the final stanza.

Siakam scored 21 first-half points to lead the Pacers to a 60-55 advantage at the break.

Lillard made six treys and scored 26 in the half for the Bucks. Lillard scored all 35 of his Game 1 points during the first half of Milwaukee’s victory. –

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