NBA: Bobby Portis help Bucks stay alive with Game 5 win over Pacers

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis (9) plays against the Indiana Pacers during the first half in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

MILWAUKEE– Bobby Portis apologized to his teammates for his ejection from a Game 4 loss that put the Milwaukee Bucks on the brink of NBA playoff elimination.

Then he made amends by helping the Bucks keep their season alive.

Portis and Khris Middleton each scored 29 points and the short-handed Bucks routed the Indiana Pacers 115-92 in Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on Tuesday night.

READ: NBA: Bobby Portis gets ejected early in Bucks’ Game 4 loss

The Pacers still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday in Indianapolis.

“Thursday will be fun,” Portis said. “I can hear some ‘Bobby Sucks!’ chants. I’m ready, man. I’m fired up. I’m already ready for it.”

Milwaukee won without injured stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard as the Fiserv Forum crowd chanted: “Bucks In Seven.”

Antetokounmpo has missed this entire series and hasn’t played since straining his left calf on April 9. Lillard sat out a second straight game after injuring his Achilles tendon in the Bucks’ 121-118 Game 3 loss on Friday.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers was asked after Game 5 about their potential availability for the rest of the series.

READ: NBA: Pacers hit 22 triples to top shorthanded Bucks for 3-1 lead

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Rivers said. “I know I hope. I think they’re very, very, very close.”

The Bucks stayed alive thanks in part to a huge performance from Portis, who had been ejected just seven minutes into Game 4 after getting into a skirmish with Indiana’s Andrew Nembhard. Portis said he watched the rest of that game while still in uniform, wondering about all the ways in which his presence on the floor might have made a difference.

He came back Tuesday and produced the highest playoff point total of his career. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton NBA NBA Bucks vs Pacers NBA Playoffs

Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton tries to get past Indiana Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA playoff basketball series Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

“I maybe crossed the line, you feel me, and let my team down by getting ejected and not being available for my team,” Portis said. “I pride myself so much on being available.”

Middleton had his third straight game with at least 25 points, and he also had 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Bucks are trying to win a series after trailing 3-1 for the first time in franchise history. The Pacers are attempting to advance beyond the opening round for the first time since 2014.

“We’ve just got to understand that they’re a team that’s on the brink of their season being done, and they’re playing desperate, they’re playing hard, as they should be,” Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, they outcompeted us tonight. They played harder. They played better. They kind of just dominated us in every facet of the game tonight.”

Haliburton scored 16 points to lead the Pacers, who had their lowest scoring total of the season. Myles Turner added 13. Obi Toppin, Aaron Nembhard and Pascal Siakam had 12 each.

Malik Beasley scored 18 points for Milwaukee. Pat Beverley had 13 points and 12 assists, and sparked a second-quarter run that put the Bucks ahead for good.

Indiana started the night intent on closing this series early.

Two nights after shooting 22 of 43 from 3-point range in Game 3, the Pacers went 7 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes and led 31-21 late in the first quarter.

But the Bucks responded with an 18-2 run as Beverley continually irritated the Pacers — to the delight of the crowd.

Shortly after a 3-pointer by Middleton put the Bucks ahead for good, Toppin was called for traveling in front of Milwaukee’s bench. As Beverley tried to grab the ball from him, Toppin shoved the Bucks guard and drew a technical foul.

On the Bucks’ ensuing possession, Beverley hit a short jumper while getting fouled by Haliburton. Beverley did a particularly showy version of the “Too Small” taunting gesture before sinking his free throw to complete a three-point play that gave Milwaukee a 39-33 lead.

“I thought Pat Beverley was fantastic,” Rivers said. “His scoring was good, but I thought his playmaking was unbelievable tonight.”



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Milwaukee led 53-48 at halftime and then scored the first nine points of the third quarter. Indiana got the margin down to nine midway through the third, but the Bucks outscored the Pacers 20-8 over the next 5½ minutes to put the game away.

“We just didn’t play with the consistent compete level we needed to,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’ll take responsibility for that. I didn’t have these guys ready the way they needed to be ready to play this game.”





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