MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Indiana Pacers couldn't make a basket in the final 4 minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they did plenty of other things well enough to win their fourth consecutive game.
Roy Hibbert had 23 points and 14 rebounds, including six free throws in the final 74 seconds, to lead Indiana to a 105-99 victory Saturday night in a crushing blow to the Bucks' playoff hopes.
Indiana missed its last nine shots, but didn't allow Milwaukee to score for nearly 4 minutes during the final minutes.
``We made positive plays,' Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. ``We knocked down our free throws. We hurt them on the glass. We outrebounded them by 11. In crunch time we were able to get some stops.'
Monta Ellis had 20 points and Brandon Jennings added 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Milwaukee. The Bucks lost for the third time in four games to fall 2 1/2 games behind New York and Philadelphia for one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
``If you want to be a really good team, you have to be able to take a time out, move the ball up, draw up a play that you've worked on countless times and everybody go out there and do it,' Skiles said of his team's struggles at the end of games.
``If you have two or three guys that don't go out there and do it, you're not going to be a good team and we have struggled with that all year long,' he said.
Milwaukee has just six games left, including one with Philadelphia.
Indiana's post play was too much for the Bucks, with Hibbert making 7 of 14 shots and nine of 10 free throws.
Vogel invoked the names of NBA legends Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Tim Duncan in describing his team's offense against Milwaukee. The Pacers took 43 shots inside the paint, making 19, and made 24 of 26 free throws.
``It's kind of like the old-school NBA with Olajuwon, Duncan and Robinson,' he said. ``Dump it in the post and those guys go to work.'
The Bucks also took 26 free throw attempts, but missed 10.
Danny Granger scored 21 points and George Hill added 13 points for Indiana.
``We hit our free throws,' Granger said. ``We only missed two. That's huge for us. On the flipside they missed about 10. The free throws were the difference.'
Granger and Jennings were called for a double technical with 10 seconds left and continued jawing on the way off the court.
``We were just talking a little trash to each other,' Granger said. ``We just had a little chit chat. We competed in a basketball game, were talking a little trash. Move on. That's it.'
Milwaukee missed five straight shots before Ellis hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to pull the Bucks to 103-99 with 11 seconds left.
Hibbert then made two free throws for the final margin, and Ellis missed a 3 with 5 seconds left.
With Indiana leading 99-93, Mike Dunleavy hit a 3 for the Bucks with 4:02 to go.
That's when lids seemed to go on both baskets. Neither team could score until Hibbert's two free throws with 1:14 left, giving the Pacers a 101-96 lead.
Milwaukee's Larry Sanders then missed two free throws, and Hibbert made two more for Indiana.
Ellis then hit his 3 and Hibbert made two more from the line to close the scoring.
``We went out there and played hard,' Ellis said. ``We fought until the end. That's all we can do. There isn't anything else you can ask of us.
``We go out there every night, we compete, we play as a team, they make shots, we don't, we lose the ballgame,' he said.
Before the game, Skiles said his team would have little chance of winning unless it outrebounded the Pacers. Indiana was 29-5 when outrebounding its opponents coming in.
The bigger Pacers, though, had no trouble dominating the boards against Milwaukee, holding a 54-43 advantage in the game. Indiana had 17 second-chance points to Milwaukee's nine.
``Most of the game they were more active than us on the glass,' Skiles said after the game. ``We started the game kind of slow on both ends.'
Indiana is third in the East and can play spoiler, still playing the Bucks another time, and Philadelphia twice in its final six games.
NOTES: Indiana starting PG Darren Collison missed his fourth consecutive game with a sore groin. He did warm up before the game. ... Granger has scored at least 18 points in 11 consecutive games. ... Indiana F David West was called for a Flagrant 1 foul after grabbing Dunleavy as he drove the lane with 7:55 left in the second quarter. ... The teams play again Thursday night at Indianapolis.
The Associated Press News Service
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