Damian Lillard scores 35 as Bucks defeat Pacers in Game 1 without Giannis Antetokounmpo

By strict definition, “Dame Time” usually refers to end-of-game clutch situations.

But “Dame Time” started early in Game 1 of the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round series with the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at Fiserv Forum.

Damian Lillard scored 19 points in the first quarter to set the tone and finished with 35 – all in the first half – as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 109-94 victory.

It was the kind of performance that Milwaukee needed from the superstar guard they traded for just before training camp, especially with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo out with a calf injury.

The Milwaukee Bucks' Damian Lillard (0) drives for the basket against the Indiana Pacers.
The Milwaukee Bucks' Damian Lillard (0) drives for the basket against the Indiana Pacers.

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Bobby Portis and Khris Middleton pitch in

Lillard sat for the first five minutes of the second quarter.

That allowed Bobby Portis time to take over. He scored six straight points to help the Bucks pull ahead to a 38-23 advantage.

Lillard came back in and picked up right where he left off, scoring 16 points in the second quarter, including several deep three-pointers. The Bucks led by 30 points and went into the locker room with a 69-42 lead.

Portis finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Middleton took on the lead role in the third quarter, scoring eight points. He finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Bucks survive brief scare in the second half from Pacers

Indiana shot 3 for 18 on three-pointers in the first half.

But Aaron Nesmith knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to start the third quarter.

Then the Pacers started chipping away at the Bucks’ lead, getting within 83-71 heading into the fourth quarter.

Middleton hit a three to start the fourth, then the Bucks got the advantage up to 97-77 with 8:54 remaining after back-to-back triples from Jae Crowder and Malik Beasley.

Milwaukee cruised from there.  Game 2 of the first-round playoff series between the Bucks and Pacers is Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV) at Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum.

Five numbers

3 — Times the Bucks and Pacers have met in the playoffs, after also meeting in the first round in 1999 and 2000.

6 — Straight seasons the Bucks have been a top 3 seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

13 — Indiana missed its first 13 three-point attempts before making one.

105 — Brook Lopez tied Giannis Antetokounmpo for first on the franchise’s all-time playoff blocks list with 105.

23 and 10 — Khris Middleton had 23 points and 10 rebounds for his first playoff double-double since Game 5 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Atlanta.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA playoffs: Milwaukee Bucks defeat Indiana Pacers in Game 1