INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers were happy to enter the
All-Star break with a victory.
The Pacers shot 41 percent and committed 20 turnovers, but
earned an 88-77 victory on Wednesday night.
"It seemed like we were playing in quicksand, turning the ball
over," Johnson said. "They really didn't have much energy,
either. It was just two teams playing with no energy, but we found
a way in the second half to get a big lead and create some distance
and get a much needed win."
The Pacers led 40-39 at the end of a sloppy first half. The
teams combined for 22 turnovers and both shot 40 percent in the
first two quarters.
The Pacers led 76-70 in the fourth quarter before a 6-0 run,
highlighted by a 3-pointer and a dunk by Stojakovic, put the game
out of reach.
It was a disappointing loss for the Bucks, which had played four
games in five days. Milwaukee played the night before, beating
Seattle 106-91. The rested Pacers hadn't played since Sunday's
92-88 loss to San Antonio.
"I really don't think we gave our best effort tonight, being
the second of a back-to-back," said Milwaukee guard T.J. Ford, who
is recovering from a mid-back contusion. "But with the All-Star
break here, we've got some time to heal."
Indiana didn't make a 3-pointer in the first half, but hit five
in the second. The Pacers outrebounded the Bucks 52-39 and held
them to 37 percent shooting.
Pacers guard Stephen Jackson was poked on the eye on a drive to
the basket in the second quarter and went straight to the locker
room. He returned to start the third quarter.
Indiana held a 40-39 lead at halftime. The Pacers' top two
scorers, Jackson and Stojakovic, were only a combined 3-for-13 in
the first half.
The Pacers started to get their offense going in the third
quarter when Stojakovic got going. He hit two quick 3-pointers to
give Indiana a 54-47 lead and force a Milwaukee timeout.
Simmons scored six points in a Milwaukee run that cut Indiana's
lead to 60-58. The Pacers responded by scoring the last seven
points of the quarter, including a 3-pointer by Johnson at the
buzzer that gave Indiana a 67-58 lead heading into the fourth.
Johnson has been more assertive as a scorer lately. He scored 23
points in a 107-95 win over Golden State on Feb. 10.
"It's always nice to get some attempts," he said. "I feel my
offensive game is coming around. I feel good about taking shots and
guys are looking for me."
The win was significant for Indiana because for most of the
season, the Pacers have had to play well to win. Johnson saw the
positive in being able to win, especially while missing injured
starters Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Austin Croshere.
"I know our margin for error was small, but our defense has
been unbelievable in the past two weeks. We've just been getting
stops, we've been holding teams below 90 points. Any time you do
that, you have a chance."
The Bucks were called for defensive three seconds twice in
the second half. ... The Bucks are 4-0 home this month and 0-4 on
the road. ... Harrison entered the game shooting 38 percent from
the free-throw line, but was 6-for-9 against the Bucks. ... Indiana
shot 19-for-29 from the free-throw line. ... The Pacers are 5-2
since acquiring Stojakovic from the Sacramento Kings.