Pacers keep step in tight East playoffs race after easy win over slumping Bucks
Paul George and the Pacers have won two straight to stay a game behind the sixth place Bucks, who have lost three in a row. AP

THE Indiana Pacers stayed in step in a crowded race for the last four spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs after spoiling the Milwaukee Bucks’ bid to clinch their entry to the postseason with a 104-89 win at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

The Pacers saw their 10-point second-quarter lead cut down to two in the third period, before Jeff Teague sparked a 20-6 run, including a 13-0 blast, to create some separation over the Bucks, 83-67.

Indiana didn’t let up in the fourth, with a 10-0 run midway through the period to extend the Pacers lead to 22, 102-80, with 4:26 to play. Both teams rested their starters the rest of the way as the Bucks bench only managed to trim the gap to 15 until the final buzzer.

Paul George led the way for the Pacers (39-40), winners of two straight games, with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Teague finished with 15 markers while Thaddeus Young also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards.

Indiana is now tied with Chicago for seventh place in the East, half a game ahead of idle Miami Heat and a game behind the slumping Milwaukee at sixth place.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 25 points for the Bucks (40-39), who have lost three in a row. Mirza Teletovic added 15 markers off the bench, all from rainbow country.

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