Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Khris Middleton added 27 points Monday night as the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks beat Indiana 119-109.
Coach Mike Budenholzer held out two injured starters — center Brook Lopez and guard Jrue Holiday — as well as key backup Bobby Portis. Yet they still had enough scoring punch to pull away from the Pacers, who have lost three of their first four games under new coach Rick Carlisle.
The Pacers were led by Malcolm Borgdon with 25 points and seven assists. Domantas Sabonis had 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
It was Middleton’s four-point play to close the first-quarter scoring that changed the game. It broke a 30-30 tie, and Milwaukee never trailed again.
The Bucks extended the lead to as much as 57-46 midway through the second quarter, then saw Sabonis lead the Pacers back, cutting the margin to 60-57 with a spinning layup. But Milwaukee scored the final six points of the first half and used a 12-5 third-quarter run to take an 83-66 lead.
Indiana cut the deficit to 107-102 on Justin Holiday’s 3-pointe with 6:21 left in the fourth but never got any closer.