National Basketball Association
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                         === Pacers slip past Bucks ===
 
 Indianapolis,  IN  (SportsNetwork.com) -  The NBA's  best predictably beat the
 league's worst on Thursday, but it was a lot closer than anticipated.
 
 Roy  Hibbert totaled 24  points and 12 rebounds and the Indiana Pacers eked by
 the Milwaukee Bucks 101-96 on Thursday.
 
 Paul  George  and Lance Stephenson netted  18 points apiece for Indiana, which
 has won three in a row -- two against the hapless Bucks -- following a stretch
 of three losses in a five-game span.
 
 "We're  a balanced attack. A different guy will get going every night," Pacers
 head coach Frank Vogel said.
 
 Brandon  Knight  and Khris Middleton  had 23  and 22 points, respectively, for
 Milwaukee,  which  posted just  its 11th  win of the  season on Monday against
 Philadelphia.
 
 Milwaukee,  after  trailing by as  many as 17 in  the first half, actually led
 60-54  following a  Middleton 3-pointer less than three minutes into the third
 quarter.
 
 The  Bucks, however,  went the final five minutes of the third quarter without
 scoring,  and  Indiana's subsequent 11-0 run  gave the hosts a 73-66 advantage
 entering the fourth.
 
 Though the lead never changed hands in the final stanza, it was still a close,
 one-possession game coming down the stretch.
 
 Knight's  layup  had Milwaukee within 88-85  with under two minutes to go, and
 Indiana  answered with  the next six points  to seal the outcome. George hit a
 13-footer coming out of a timeout, and Hibbert tacked on two free throws and a
 jumper while being fouled on the next two Indiana possessions.
 
 Even though Hibbert missed the free throw, Indiana held on for the win.
 
 "We're just going to focus on finishing this season strong, knowing that we'll
 not  be in the playoffs, and just try to set a foundation for next year," said
 Bucks guard O.J. Mayo, who donated 14 points.
 
 The  Pacers doubled up the Bucks in the first quarter, 30-15, and were up by a
 dozen  before Middleton  and Knight combined on  a 12-0 run over the final two
 minutes of the half.
 
 Middleton scored the first seven points of the surge, and Knight followed with
 a 3-pointer and a runner just before the buzzer to even things at 50-50.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Indiana improved to 44-13 on the season, while Milwaukee fell to 11-46 ... The
 Bucks made half of their 24 3-point attempts ... The Pacers have won all three
 meetings  against their  Central  Division rivals  this  season ...  Indiana's
 George  Hill, who  finished with nine points, suffered a bruised left shoulder
 and is listed as day-to-day.
 
 
 
 
 02/27 23:26:28 ET