INDIANAPOLIS — T.J. Ford matched his career high with 34 points, Jarrett Jack added 14 and the Indiana Pacers held off Milwaukee’s comeback bid for a 107-99 victory Wednesday night.
Indiana has won three of four, but this one came without leading-scorer Danny Granger who sat out with a sore right knee.
Ford looks like he’s healthy again after being slowed by back spasms earlier this month. He’s now topped 20 points in three of the last four games and given the Pacers a significant energy boost.
The teams were missing their biggest stars.
Granger sat out with a with a sore right knee, and the Bucks were missing Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut before losing Luke Ridnour early in the fourth quarter. Redd sustained a season-ending knee injury Saturday, Bogut has missed the last eight games as he recovers from back spasms, and Ridnour went down with a concussion after getting elbowed in the nose. Ridnour did not return.
But Ford gave Indiana the consistent scorer it needed without Granger. He routinely shook off defenders with nifty moves, beat the Bucks off the dribble and repeatedly exposed openings in the middle of their defense for layups.
Milwaukee never figured out how to shut off Ford’s drives.
Charlie Villanueva scored 28 points and Richard Jefferson added 19 for the Bucks, whose only lead came after the first basket of the game. Milwaukee has lost five of seven.
It appeared the Pacers were heading toward a rout after building a 15-point lead in the first six minutes. They expanded the lead to as much as 57-37 with 4:35 left in the half.
But the Bucks rallied to within 12 at halftime and closed to within 74-72 midway through the third quarter. Indiana finally answered with a 6-2 run, rebuilding an 80-74 lead.
Milwaukee drew to 94-91 with 5:07 to go, but Ford and Jack kept exploiting the holes in Milwaukee’s defense by driving for baskets or drawing fouls. Indiana sealed it by going 3-for-4 from the line in the last 10 seconds.