Pacers hold off Bucks

NBA

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Indiana Pacers can finally smile on their four-game road swing.

Grinding out a 103-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks erased the bitter taste of back-to-back defeats to 40-loss teams Atlanta and Dallas during the first two stops on the trip.

Victor Oladipo had 21 points to lead the Pacers, who held on after nearly blowing a 17-point lead in the middle of a mistake-laden fourth quarter Friday night.

But any win over a fellow Eastern Conference playoff hopeful can boost a team’s confidence, especially on the road.

“From the arena to the players to the (officials), it definitely felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Oladipo said. “It was a great win for us.”

With his team trailing by five, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton missed a corner 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 8.9 seconds left. Bojan Bogdanovic hit two foul shots at the other end to seal it and hand the Bucks their fourth straight loss.

The Bucks nearly stormed back from a 93-76 deficit with 6:34 left. Indiana committed four turnovers during a 12-0 Milwaukee run that tightened what looked to be a blowout.

“We had some turnovers late in the game, a little careless with the ball,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “You have to value every possession.”

Oladipo hit a runner in the lane with 1:13 left for a 98-92 lead to slow Milwaukee’s momentum. He also scored six straight Indiana points during a 14-1 spurt in the third that helped the Pacers build a double-digit edge in the fourth.

“That’s where I thought it went wrong, middle to end of the third,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said. “The pick-and-roll was really causing us problems … and then on the other end of the floor (the ball) wasn’t moving as freely.”

Lance Stephenson added 16 points for Indiana, and Bogdanovic had 14 after going 12 of 13 from the foul line.

Middleton led all scorers with 30 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee looked out of sorts at times offensively and alternated near-misses with out-of-control possessions until the near-comeback in the fourth quarter.

“We’re not moving the ball side-to-side as much as we need to,” Middleton said.

TIP-INS

Pacers: After an ugly 24-turnover game in a loss Wednesday at Atlanta, Indiana’s 13 turnovers against the Bucks were in line with its season average of 13.4. … Indiana entered 13-16 on the road, matching last season’s win total.

Bucks: Jason Terry made his first start since Jan. 22, 2016, with Houston. The 40-year-old guard blocked three shots for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, with Dallas against Philadelphia. … G Tony Snell missed his second straight game with a bruised right thigh. The backcourt is already thin with Malcolm Brogdon (left quad) and Matthew Dellavedova (right ankle) still sidelined.

ON GUARDS

It didn’t help Milwaukee that the injury-thinned backcourt also had to deal with foul trouble for starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, who was saddled with two fouls for much of the first quarter and played much of the fourth with five. Bledsoe finished with 15 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

SLOPPY START

A choppy first half ended with the Bucks leading 46-45. The game got off to a testy start after officials called five technical fouls in the last 6:14 of the first quarter, including one each on Stephenson and Milwaukee’s Sterling Brown after the players got tangled up under the basket. At one point early in the second quarter, the teams had combined for 15 fouls and 19 field goals.

“Both teams were getting after it from the start. Both teams are playing for the same thing,” McMillan said.

GIANNIS’ NIGHT

Antetokounmpo was 6 of 18 from the floor but went 10 for 12 at the foul line.

“We need him to be aggressive. We need him to do multiple things. If you’re shot isn’t going down, he knows that he can move the ball,” Prunty said.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Wrap up the four-game trip Sunday at Washington.

Bucks: Another important game in the Eastern Conference playoff race when they host Philadelphia on Sunday.

Gordon, Magic stop 7-game skid, beat Pistons 115-106 in OT

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic have had to explain so many late-game collapses this season that it was a little awkward describing how well they handled the deciding moments of Friday night’s 115-106 overtime victory against the Detroit Pistons.

Aaron Gordon had 27 points and 13 rebounds to help Orlando end a seven-game losing streak. Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and 12 rebounds, and D.J. Augustin had 20 points and nine assists for the Magic, who rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation.

“Everybody played great defensively all night long,” said Gordon, who limited Pistons star Blake Griffin to 5-of-14 shooting and just 12 points. “That was one of the few times that we listened to a game plan. It’s good when it comes together and everybody’s on the same page. You come out with a win.”

Evan Fournier scored 17 points, including the first six in overtime when Orlando finally took control.

However, the deciding factor in the game was the Magic defense. Orlando held Detroit to 1-for-9 shooting in the final six minutes of regulation and 0 for 8 in the five-minute overtime.

“Defense is all we talked about for the last 48 hours and I did see an improvement,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “They missed a couple of open looks throughout that stretch, but for the most part our defensive intensity was really good. We were really committed to get a W tonight.”

James Ennis and Reggie Bullock led Detroit with 21 points apiece. Griffin had 10 rebounds and nine assists to go with his 12 points. Dwight Buycks and Anthony Tolliver scored 12 each for the slumping Pistons, who have lost seven of nine.

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy took his starting five to task for their offensive failure at the end of regulation and in overtime.

“We didn’t play very well,” Van Gundy said. “Those are the guys that are supposed to win games for us. We just stand around. Clearly if we had answers, we would have won.”

Fournier’s scoring burst gave Orlando a 110-104 lead going into the final two minutes of overtime. That proved to be plenty of cushion against a Detroit team that went from shooting 52.4 percent in the first three quarters to making just one of their last 17 shots in regulation and overtime.

Fournier said Magic players in a late-game huddle stressed the need to keep up the defensive effort.

“We were kind of like, OK, not again,” Fournier. “That kind of changed the momentum. We went into overtime knowing we were going to execute and play good defense and we did.”

The Magic could have won it in regulation. Fournier drilled a 3-pointer that gave Orlando a 104-102 lead with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

The Pistons tied it when Griffin got a long rebound and found Ennis for a breakaway dunk that tied the game at 104 with seven seconds left.

The Magic muffed their chance for a game-winner. Vucevic lost his balance when driving the lane and turned the ball over, leading to overtime.

The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 82.

Detroit got consecutive 3-pointers from Buycks, Tolliver and Langston Galloway to take a 97-91 lead with 6:47 left in the period.

Orlando started attacking the basket, hitting three straight layups, and that opened up the perimeter. Gordon nailed his third 3 to give the Magic a 101-100 lead with three minutes to play.

TIP-INS

Pistons: Galloway left in the second quarter to get three stitches to close a cut over his right eye. He returned in the second half. … Detroit turned the ball over on its first four possessions. The Pistons didn’t get off a shot for nearly three minutes. … Griffin is 0 for 11 on 3-pointers in his last four games. … Detroit has forced more than 10 turnovers in 48 straight games, the longest current streak in the NBA. The Pistons forced 16 turnovers in this one.

Magic: Jonathan Isaac, the team’s first pick in the 2017 draft, played for the first time in 26 games. He had three points and two rebounds in 15 minutes. … SG Aaron Afflalo was deactivated before the game so the Magic could see more of 10-day signee Rashad Vaughn, but Vaughn did not play.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Play at Miami on Saturday night.

Magic: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night to complete a three-game homestand.