Pacers Erupt for 50 Points in Third Quarter to Shock Bucks 142-130

INDIANAPOLIS – After a back-and-forth first half saw the Indiana Pacers keep pace early before Milwaukee surged ahead by double digits right before intermission, most expected the defending champion Bucks led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 40 halftime points to pull away after the break. But instead, an explosive record-setting 50 point Pacers third quarter erupted to shock the visitors 142-130 right on their home court.

“I’ve never witnessed scoring explosions like that before in my career,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, whose squad dropped consecutive games for just the second time all season. “They suddenly couldn’t miss and we lost all momentum in a blink.”

Haliburton and Hield Team Up for 82 Combined

The Pacers dynamic guard duo of Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield fueled the astonishing frame, hitting five straight triples early on and slashing relentlessly while getting to the line at will. They finished with a combined 82 points themselves – 41 apiece.

“Once those outside shots started falling, it opened everything else up for us,” Haliburton explained after notching his second career triple double. “Confidence soared and we rode that wave right past a great team.”

Antetokounmpo Kept in Check Second Half

After 20 first half points, Indiana held Antetokounmpo to just 11 more following intermission, frequently rotating swarming double teams to neutralize the MVP’s drives down low while forcing perimeter shots. Milwaukee’s supporting cast failed keeping pace once the Pacers overtook the lead for good midway through the third.

“We knew Giannis would come out aggressive after they lost last night,” said center Myles Turner – whose key blocks helped limit Milwaukee’s main weapon. “So we had to stay locked in defensively.”

Pacers Resolve Gets Tested Early

Indiana showed early signs of lingering holiday distraction remnants, committing five quick turnovers that let the Bucks grab an 11 point advantage late in the opening quarter until a closing 8-2 run brought it within 33-28 heading to the second period. But Milwaukee soon went ahead by 13 when Indiana shooting briefly went cold.

“We challenged each other mentally to go take this game,” newly returned point guard T.J. McConnell said about locker room talks, after which the team proceeded to score a ridiculous 49% from both the field and behind the arc in the monumental second half beatdown.

With the surprising victory, Indiana moves into a tie for sixth place in the East – quite the New Years turnaround exactly halfway through the 2022-23 campaign. And the NBA world takes notice that this focused Pacers squad possesses the firepower to compete with the league’s elite.

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