Pacers-Bucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 14, 2012
The Indiana Pacers had no problem putting the ball in the basket last season against the Milwaukee Bucks, but that was with Danny Granger in the lineup. They could sure use him there now. Indiana goes for its first road win in five tries Wednesday night when the Bucks try to avoid a third straight home loss. Led by Granger's 21.7 points per game, Indiana averaged 116.0 as it swept the three matchups with Milwaukee last season. However, with Granger yet to play this season due to left patellar tendinitis - he's not expected to return for up to three months - Indiana (3-5) has scored more than 100 points just once and is averaging 88.1 on 40.1 percent shooting. The Pacers converted a season-low 24 field goals in Tuesday's 74-72 home loss to Toronto, which had a franchise-low five points in the fourth quarter. Indiana has dropped four of five. "It was hard for us to put the ball in the hole,'' said coach Frank Vogel, whose team has shot worse than 40 percent in half of its games. "We've got multiple guys in shooting slumps right now. We're getting a number of open looks at the rim and they're not going down.'' The Bucks (4-2) have been having that problem in their last two games in Milwaukee, hitting a combined 39.1 percent of their shots and averaging 91.0 points in a pair of defeats. Milwaukee, though, returns home following Monday's 105-96 win over Philadelphia. Brandon Jennings finished with a season-best 33 points after missing 10 of 11 shots and scoring four points in Saturday's 96-92 home loss to Boston. "In the first half, he was just spreading the ball around nicely and getting the guys involved,'' coach Scott Skiles said of Jennings, who also dished out eight assists. "When it came time for him to score some points, he did that as well.'' Jennings averaged a team-high 18.3 points last season against Indiana with 5.7 assists. Backcourt mate Monta Ellis also had 17 assists in those three contests, yet he totaled only 43 points. Ellis leads Milwaukee with 20.7 points per game in 2012-13, but he's shooting a career-low 39.3 percent and has hit just 7 of 27 from 3-point range. Getting back on track could be a challenge as Indiana is among the NBA leaders in scoring defense (90.1 points per game) and field goal defense (41.0). The Pacers are also near the top in rebounds per game with 48.5, led by Paul George (68 total), David West (66) and Roy Hibbert (63). West and Hibbert led Indiana with 28 boards against Milwaukee in 2011-12. Bucks forward Larry Sanders, who is grabbing a team-best 9.2 boards per game, had nine off the bench Monday when Milwaukee set season highs for rebounds (48) and rebounding margin (17). With its first season sweep of Milwaukee since 2006-07, Indiana has now won five straight against Milwaukee after losing the previous six. The Pacers' last 6-0 run in this series, excluding playoffs, was a seven-game stretch from Nov. 20, 1997-April 21, 1999.
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