Pacers 104, Bucks 98
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Despite all their struggles, the Indiana Pacers are still right in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Mike Dunleavy scored 25 points, including four free throws in the final 7.7 seconds, and the Pacers pulled within a game of eighth-place Orlando in the East on Wednesday night with a 104-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Indiana (35-43) and Orlando (36-42) both teams have four games left, with the Pacers at Miami on Friday night.
“We’re the hunters,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re trying to stay in this thing and it’s not going to be easy.”
A day after a potentially costly loss at Philadelphia, the Pacers had a fourth-quarter scare but held on to win for only the second time in their last 14 road games.
“Fortunately, we’re back within basically a half a game since we (win) the tiebreaker (with Orlando),” Carlisle said. “There’s a long way to go, a lot to be determined.”
Besides Friday night’s game at Miami, the Pacers host New Jersey and Washington and travel to Atlanta.
“I was happy how we hung in there and got the win, now we’re looking forward to the big game on Friday at Miami,” Indiana’s Darrell Armstrong said. “Seeing how the Magic got beat, we’re still in it. Our guys still believe and we’re still fighting hard.”
The Bucks—playing with only one of their regular starters—made it difficult for the Pacers, but lost for the 11th time in 12 games.
Indiana led nearly the entire game, but the Bucks got within 100-98 on David Noel’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds left.
Armstrong missed a 3-pointer on the Pacers’ next possession, but Dunleavy grabbed the rebound and called timeout before falling out of bounds with 15 seconds to go.
The Pacers played keep-away with the ball after the timeout until Dunleavy was fouled and made a pair of free throws with 7.7 seconds left to make it 102-98.
Williams missed a 3-pointer, Dunleavy was fouled and made both free throws with 2.2 seconds to go for the final scoring.
“It makes (the) loss (at Philadelphia) more depressing, but I thought we rebounded well and got the job done,” Dunleavy said. “That’s all that matters.”
“Obviously, we’ve got some issues with rebounding,” Milwaukee coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
Mo Williams scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half to lead Milwaukee.
Dan Gadzuric and rookie Noel each had a season-high 18 points for the Bucks.
“It just gives you confidence for the next season and also just gives you confidence for the rest of this season,” Noel said. “I know I’m going to get a lot of playing time in these last couple of games, so hopefully I can continue to bring it like that.”
Indiana scored the first six points of the second half to open a 59-44 lead on O’Neal’s 15-foot jumper with 8:44 left in the third quarter. Foster hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Pacers an 80-70 lead after three quarters.
Indiana opened its first double-digit lead, 38-28, on Orien Greene’s layup with 6:57 left in the second quarter, and led 53-44 at halftime.
The Pacers were without point guard Jamaal Tinsley (sore elbow) for the fourth consecutive game.
The Pacers won the season series, 4-0. … Milwaukee is 1-14 against teams from the Central Division. The Bucks beat Detroit to open the season and have lost 14 consecutive division games. … The Bucks were missing starters Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva. A fourth starter, Bobby Simmons, has missed the entire season. … Despite the announced attendance of 14,596, there were plenty of empty seats in the lower bowl of the Bradley Center. A storm that dropped more than 5 inches of snow on Milwaukee brought poor driving conditions in the hours before the game. … Noel’s previous high was 11 points on Nov. 22 against Philadelphia. Gadzuric’s previous season high was 15 on Nov. 10 at Washington.