T.J. Warren Drops 35 as Pacers Hold off Giannis-Less Bucks to Snap 6-Game Skid

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 13, 2020

Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren dunks in front of Milwaukee Bucks defenders Khris Middleton, center, and Ersan Ilyasova during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ MAST/Associated Press

Two teams going in opposite directions reversed course on Wednesday as the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-111 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Pacers forward T.J. Warren scored a game-high 35 points on 16-of-19 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and four steals. His performance helped the Pacers shoot 52.3 percent from the field.

All five Pacers starters scored in double digits. Malcolm Brogdon (17 points, 13 assists) and Myles Turner (14 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles. 

Donte DiVincenzo led the Bucks with 19 points off the bench, and Khris Middleton added 17.

Indiana led 68-45 at halftime, but Milwaukee fought back and cut the deficit to 90-86 with 8:19 remaining in the game after an Eric Bledsoe layup.

But the Pacers responded with a 10-0 run capped by four Brogdon points. Milwaukee never came closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The 32-23 Pacers broke a six-game losing skid. The 46-8 Bucks' five-game winning streak came to an end. Milwaukee had also won 14 of its last 15 heading into Wednesday.

The Bucks played without MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is out after he and girlfriend Mariah Danae Riddlesprigger welcomed a son, Liam Charles, on Monday.

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Notable Performances

Pacers F T.J. Warren: 35 PTS, 7 REB, 4 STL

Pacers PG Malcolm Brogdon: 17 PTS, 13 AST, 5 REB

Pacers C Myles Turner: 14 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK

Bucks F Khris Middleton: 17 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST

Bucks G Eric Bledsoe: 15 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST

Bucks G Donte DiVincenzo: 19 PTS, 8 REB, 1 STL


T.J. Warren Stars, But Rest of Pacers Excel in Much-Needed Win

February has been a month to forget for the Indiana Pacers, who entered Wednesday winless.

Losses included defeats to three teams with sub-.500 records in the New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Somehow, the Pacers couldn't find a win despite each game being competitive (their average margin of defeat was just 5.7 points per game).

On paper, the Pacers looked like they'd be in trouble against the league's best team, which was without Antetokounmpo but sporting a 5-0 record without its leader. Milwaukee's average margin of victory during those games was 16.8 points.

The Pacers needed some excellent performances to topple the Bucks, and they got them from numerous players during a night on which Indiana finally resembled the team from the season's first three months.

The team's leading scorer, T.J. Warren, only missed three of his 19 shots. He excelled from two-point range again, as he has all season, per Tyler Smith of IndySportsLegends.com:

Tyler Smith @TylerSmith_ISL

T.J. Warren is shooting 57% on 2-point attempts this year. That's 4th best among small-forwards.

John Hollinger of The Athletic gave credit where it was due:

John Hollinger @johnhollinger

T.J. Warren has been awesome tonight and if the Pacers survive this and win he is more or less the entire reason.

Warren was tough on the defensive end, which sometimes led to points:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

𝘀𝘄𝗶𝗽𝗲 ↘︎ 𝙨𝙡𝙖𝙢 https://t.co/BLhiS6iXvt

Warren also came through in the clutch as the Bucks chipped away at the lead with some huge buckets in the fourth, including these two:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

T.J. in a different zone tonight 😯 https://t.co/8Qvh6HpHh7

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

.@TonyWarrenJr finishes his night 16-of-19 from the field with 3️⃣5️⃣ points. https://t.co/H22g1AOMLk

Indiana got some much-needed contributions elsewhere, however, perhaps none more encouraging than the ones from Victor Oladipo.

The two-time All-Star is finding his form after missing a year with a quad injury, and he shot just 20.5 percent in his first three games back.

However, the shots are falling more since, capped by a 5-of-7 performance Wednesday for 13 points.

Oladipo's aggressiveness was on display against the Bucks as he drove through the lane for a few buckets:

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

@VicOladipo 𝒻𝒾𝓃𝒹 + 𝓯𝓲𝓷𝓲𝓼𝓱 https://t.co/v7bUF0kS5v

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

.@VicOladipo is in 𝕒𝕥𝕥𝕒𝕔𝕜 𝕞𝕠𝕕𝕖 😤 https://t.co/qDeLINbO6T

The 8 Points, 9 Seconds FanSided Pacers blog noted that Oladipo was starting to look like his old self:

8 Points, 9 Seconds @8pts9secs

Some vintage Victor Oladipo on display. #IndianaStyle

The rest of the Pacers starters impressed, as well.

Malcolm Brogdon had zero issues finding his teammates all night against the league's best defense en route to his 13 assists, and Myles Turner was tough on the boards with 10. All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis had an off night from the field at 4-of-15 but helped the Pacers dominate the paint on both ends for a 54-42 advantage.

The Pacers aren't in danger of missing the playoffs. Based on the latest top-heavy Eastern Conference standings, they may find themselves with enough wins to realistically secure a top-eight seed before March.

But it's important to roll into the postseason with some momentum, and they got off to the right foot in that regard by heading into the All-Star break with a big win.


What's Next?

The Pacers and Bucks will both be represented in the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday.

Antetokounmpo is the captain for Team Giannis, which also features Bucks teammate Khris Middleton.

Domantas Sabonis will play for Team LeBron, captained by Los Angeles Lakers guard/forward LeBron James.


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