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Indiana Improves to 9-0

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November 15, 2013 (AP) – Roy Hibbert scored 24 points and had eight blocks, both season-highs, leading unbeaten Indiana past Milwaukee 104-77 Friday night.

The Pacers became the first team since the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks to open a season at 9-0. Indiana has already beaten all four of its Central Division foes and will attempt to stay perfect Saturday night at Chicago.

Hibbert had plenty of help. Paul George scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter and Lance Stephenson finished with 11 points.

The short-handed Bucks (2-6) spent most of the game playing catch-up. With four injured players sitting out, O.J. Mayo led the Bucks with 20 points. Khris Middleton and Gary Neal each had 11 — nowhere near enough to avoid a fourth straight loss.

Indiana took control with two big third-quarter spurts to build a 68-53 lead.

The game had a familiar look for Indiana.

The NBA’s best defense limited Milwaukee to a season-low point total. Its previous worst was 83 and it was well below the Bucks’ season average (93.7). The Bucks also shot just 34.1 percent from the field. Milwaukee played without Caron Butler, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders.

The Pacers again spread the wealth. After grabbing 10 rebounds, Hibbert fell just two blocks short of a triple-double.

Coming off a three-day break, Indiana wiped out a sluggish start in the blink of an eye.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert stuffs the Bucks’ Miroslav Raduljica on Friday night, one of his eight blocks.

After trailing twice in the first quarter, for a total of 62 seconds, they used an 11-2 run to put Milwaukee in a 21-14 hole and never trailed again. Indiana finished the first quarter on an 8-3 spurt to make it 31-21. The Bucks closed to 31-25 early in the second, but when Vogel reinserted his starters, it was all over.

The Pacers answered with a 9-0 spurt to regain control and got a last-second layup from George Hill to make it 53-27 at halftime.

The gritty Bucks challenged early in the second half, getting within 52-46 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

But George and Hibbert took care of the rest. George scored six points in a 7-2 run, and George and Hibbert then teamed up for all seven points in the second spurt that gave them the 15-point lead with 2:39 to go in the third.

Milwaukee never got within single digits again, losing for the fifth consecutive time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Michael Conroy

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