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Pascal Siakam leads resurgent Pacers offense in 125-108 victory that evens series with Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Pascal Siakam scored 37 points and the Indiana Pacers overcame another fantastic first-half performance from Damian Lillard to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-108 on Tuesday night and tie their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Indiana snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak that began with a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in a first-round series in 2018. The Pacers were swept by Boston in 2019 and by Miami in 2020.

Two nights after scoring all 35 of his points in the first half of the Bucks’ 109-94 Game 1 victory, Lillard had 26 by halftime Tuesday and finished with 34.

It wasn’t enough. Lillard didn’t get enough help with the Bucks once again missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a strained left calf.

Antetokounmpo hasn’t played since he was hurt in an April 9 victory over the Boston Celtics.

“(He) shot today, was on the floor a bunch,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said during his pregame media session. “He’s getting closer.”

The series heads to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Friday.

The Pacers led the NBA with 123.3 points per game during the regular season but posted their lowest point total and field-goal percentage (.396) while shooting 8 of 38 on 3-pointers in Game 1. This time, Indiana looked more like the team that won four of five regular-season matchups with the Bucks while scoring at least 122 points in each.

Siakam, who won an NBA title with Toronto in 2019, led the way, going 16 of 23 from the floor. He also had 11 rebounds and six assists. Siakam scored 36 points in Game 1.

Myles Turner scored 22 points and Andrew Nembhard 20 for the Pacers. Tyrese Haliburton had 12 points and 12 assists.

Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez scored 22 points and shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton scored 15 points. Bobby Portis had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Despite another big first half by Lillard, the Bucks trailed 60-55 at the break as Indiana went 10 of 20 on 3-point attempts.

The Pacers extended the lead to 11 early in the third quarter. The Bucks went on an 8-0 run and cut Indiana’s lead to 79-78, but Portis missed a 14-footer that would have put Milwaukee ahead with 3:28 left in the third. Indiana pushed its lead to 92-83 by the end of the period.

Milwaukee rallied early in the fourth when Indiana’s Obi Toppin was called for a flagrant-1 foul against Pat Connaughton on a drive to the basket. That enabled Milwaukee to retain possession after Connaughton sank a free throw that completed a three-point play to cut Indiana’s lead to 92-88.

But after Milwaukee’s Jae Crowder missed a 3-pointer, Indiana reeled off eight consecutive points in a 74-second span to grab a 12-point advantage with 9:17 left.

Indiana ultimately pushed its lead to 23 points.

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