8:00 PM ET, April 9, 2014
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
Chris Copeland made sure to take advantage.
Copeland scored a season-high 18 points and made a difficult driving layup with 1.2 seconds remaining, giving the Pacers a hard-fought 104-102 win that moved them back into first place in the Eastern Conference.
"It's big for our confidence, the second unit," said Copeland, who went in averaging three points per game. "Just to get the opportunity out there. A lot of us have been waiting for that all year. So it was very cool for us to get out there and get a win and show the starters that we've got their backs when they need rest."
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With the No. 1 Eastern seed in play, Indiana coach Frank Vogel's bold strategy of resting his starters worked, D.J. Foster writes. Blog
Copeland also tied a career high with four 3-pointers and matched a season high with 17 minutes of playing time.
Following a pair of timeouts, the Pacers inbounded the ball to Copeland, who drove hard to the basket for the winning shot.
"I tried to rip through to the basket and tried to use my size," Copeland said. "I saw help coming, so I shot it."
Copeland's shot came after Milwaukee's Khris Middleton had tied the game at 102 by making three free throws. Middleton drew a foul while attempting a shot near the 3-point arc with 4.9 seconds remaining that referees initially ruled a 2-point attempt. After a review, the call was reversed, sending Middleton to the line for three shots.
Vogel made the unusual move to keep all of his regular first-team players on the bench after saying his team appeared tired following a 107-88 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday, when the Pacers were held to a franchise-low 23 points in the first half.
"It was a great win for our guys, a great team effort," Vogel said. "We had a lot of good contributors."
Even without the starters, Indiana moved a half-game ahead of the Heat heading into Friday's matchup in Miami.
After leading the East most of the season, the Pacers had lost five of six games going into the matchup with the Bucks. Still, the Pacers went in just a half-game behind Miami, which lost at Memphis.
The Bucks, who had only eight players available due to injuries, have lost six in a row and were on the losing end of all four games with the Pacers this season. Brandon Knight had 25 points and Ramon Sessions 20 for Milwaukee. Jeff Adrien pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.
The game featured 23 lead changes.
Usual Indiana starters Paul George, David West, George Hill and Lance Stephenson dressed but didn't play. Another starter, Roy Hibbert, was inactive for the game. All five are expected to start against the Heat. Vogel insisted that the move would allow the starters to get some minor injuries healed and allow his reserves to play extended minutes.
"It was great for us starting guys to sit out and get some rest as well as our bench rotation guys to get some rhythm going late into the season," Hill said. "It's tough to be a spectator. But I had to be a good teammate."
Adrien wasn't pleased with the benching of the Pacers' starters.
"It was kind of like a smack in our face," he said.
Sessions also was surprised to see Indiana's entire starting lineup on the bench.
"They are fighting for something so it was a little surprising to see those guys sit," he said.
The Pacers built a nine-point lead in the fourth before the Bucks' late rally.
Indiana held a 53-50 lead at the half, paced by Scola's 16 points and 14 from Turner. Sessions and Knight each had 11 first-half points for the Bucks.
The game was tied at 25 after the first quarter. Scola tallied 12 points in the period for Indiana.
Indiana guard C.J. Watson returned after missing 13 consecutive games with a hamstring injury. ... Milwaukee center Larry Sanders was activated and began serving his five-game suspension for failed drug tests. ... New Marquette University men's basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski attended the game.
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 9: Evan Turner #12 of the Indiana Pacers controls the ball against Brandon Knight #11 of the...(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
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MVP: Luis Scola gave the Pacers a focal point on offense: a player who could both draw a double-team in the post and hit defense-stretching shots on the perimeter. He scored a game-high 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
Defining moment: Ian Mahinmi fouled Khris Middleton on a 3-point attempt with 4.9 seconds left, and Middleton made all three free throws to tie the game at 102. Chris Copeland countered for the game winner. He caught an inbounds pass, drove right and floated in a shot over Ramon Sessions.
That was ... just as interesting off the floor: The Pacers rested all five of their usual starters with a game in Miami looming Friday. The Bucks activated Larry Sanders and started the timetable on his five-game suspension with five games left in the season.
Next 5 Games
Since Evan Turner's first game with the Pacers on Feb. 25th, Indiana has been outscored by 8.7 points per 48 minutes with him on the court while its outscored teams slightly with him off the floor. The defense has clearly taken a step back with Turner as the Pacers are allowing 8.2 more points per 48 minutes with him on the floor.[+]
Pacers With Evan Turner On/Off Court - Since Turner's Debut Feb. 25th
While Indiana's collapse certainly can't all be pinned on the Evan Turner trade, it's worth noting despite Granger and Turner putting up similar numbers in Indiana this season - the Pacers were much more successful with Granger on the court. With Granger on the court, Indiana outscored opponents by 116 points. Thus far with Turner on the court, the Pacers have been outscored by 83 points.[+]
With Pacers This Season
From Elias: 137 teams in NBA history have entered the All-Star Break with a win percentage of .700 or better, including the Pacers this season (.769). Among those teams, only the 2000-01 Trail Blazers posted a worse post All-Star win percentage than Indiana (13-13 since the break). None of the four teams on this list made it to the Conference Finals.
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