The last time the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Indiana Pacers, the lottery-bound squad pulled off a surprising upset victory on the road. That, apparently, was still fresh in the Bucks' minds as they traveled to Indiana on Wednesday night to get their revenge. And did they ever. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday both put up video game stat lines as the Bucks cruised to a 149-136 win that moved them closer to securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
In a rare twist, it was Holiday who actually led the way in the scoring department. The All-Star guard has been forced to look for his own offense more often than usual this season due to Khris Middleton's injury problems, and with the veteran forward sitting out again on Wednesday, Holiday stepped up with his biggest performance yet.
Late in the first quarter, Holiday scored eight of the Bucks' final 10 points to help them take the lead for good. He never cooled back down, and finished with a career-high 51 points on 20 of 30 from the field, adding eight rebounds and eight assists for good measure. The Pacers simply couldn't keep Holiday out of the paint, as he shot 12 of 14 at the rim and got to the line for 10 free throws.
Holiday could have went for Michael Redd's franchise-record mark of 57 points if he played the entire way, but instead he'll have to settle for becoming the sixth Bucks player to reach the 50-point mark. In addition, he joined a fun group of players to have their first 50-point game after turning 32 years old.
As for Antetokounmpo, he had a ridiculous night too, even by his high standards. He recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 38 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, and shot 14 of 18 from the field against a Pacers defense that had no answer for him.
"It's hard to come up with superlatives to describe them," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They were phenomenal. Giannis I thought set the tone with his aggressive attacking, got to the free throw line a lot early, and then Jrue for the whole game. To have 51, that's hard to do in an NBA game. Together with Giannis at 38, those two guys were special. They put us on their backs."
Together, Antetokounmpo and Holiday combined for 89 points, 25 rebounds and 20 assists to become just the third pair of teammates in NBA history to put up at least 85 points, 25 rebounds and 20 assists in a game. The other duos were Wilt Chamberlain and Guy Rogers in 1962 (yes, that was the night that Chamberlain scored 100 points) and Elgin Baylor and Chamberlain in 1969. In addition, the Bucks are the first team in NBA history to have both a 50-point scorer and a 35-point triple-double in the same game.
With the win, the Bucks improved to 55-21, and increased their lead on the Boston Celtics in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to three games. Though the teams will meet on Thursday to decide the tiebreaker between the clubs, the Bucks are well on their way to securing homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.