Pacers Fall to Hot-Shooting Bucks
Al Jefferson and the new-look Indiana Pacers have fought through some growing pains together early this season, and they manifested in a tough loss Thursday night.
The Pacers struggled defensively in a 125-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, prompting the players to come together and call for improvement going forward.
“It’s definitely a little gut-check coming,” said guard C.J. Miles. “How bad do you want to do it? How bad do you want to be good? How bad do you want to win? It’s definitely coming, from one through 15. Everybody’s got to get better.”
The game tipped back and forth for much of the first half, with both teams shooting more than 50 percent from the floor. But a combined 43 turnovers for the two teams made for a sloppy contest, and the Bucks pulled away in the second half.
BIG AL BUSY EARLY
Big Al entered after a timeout in the first quarter and wasted no time getting involved, fighting for a loose ball in his first seconds of play which lead to a Paul George layup. Al came out with 10:19 to go in the second quarter and the Pacers took a 63-57 deficit into the locker room at halftime.
The Bucks came out hot in the second half with guard Jabari Parker scoring nine in a spurt that put the Pacers down 17 midway through the quarter.
“They were in attack mode,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan.
With Pacers starting center Myles Turner in foul trouble, Al was pressed into extended minutes. Aware of Al’s skill as an interior scorer, the Bucks consistently sent help defense and double-teams his way during the third quarter. The increased attention opened up the floor for the Pacers who were able to cut the deficit to 11 heading into the fourth.
The Pacers got as close as seven with 4:11 to play before a 7-0 Bucks run built their lead back to double digits and both teams emptied their benches.
Al played 19 minutes, scoring five points to go with seven rebounds and a block.
PACERS CALL FOR MORE DEFENSE
Defense was the main topic of discussion for the Pacers after the game, with George saying that Indy must keep working to improve on that end of the floor.
“We drill defense every day,” George said. “It’s not transferring over into the games. We’re not figuring it out. We’re clueless on defense. It’s pathetic at this point.”
The Pacers will try to bounce back in the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Pacers have yet to lose at home this season.
With Joakim Noah out with a separated shoulder, Al is likely to see increased time against Bulls center Robin Lopez.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST on Fox Sports Indiana.