MILWAUKEE — Jrue Holiday had 28 points and 14 assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame the absence of Giannis Antetokoumpo to breeze past the Indiana Pacers 140-113 on Monday night for their seventh consecutive victory.
Antetokounmpo was sidelined by a sprained left knee. Coach Mike Budenholzer said he thinks the reigning two-time NBA MVP got hurt during a 120-113 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
“We’re hoping it’s shorter rather than longer, but we’ll see how these first 48 to 72 hours go and we’ll know more then,” Budenholzer said before Monday’s game.
With Antetokounmpo out of the lineup, Pat Connaughton made his first start of the season and collected 20 points and nine rebounds while shooting 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Khris Middleton had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Bucks also played without reserve forward P.J. Tucker because of a sprained left ankle. Tucker played 12 minutes and was scoreless Monday in his second game since he was acquired in a trade with Houston last week.
Indiana wasn’t close to full strength, either.
The Pacers were missing Malcolm Brogdon (sore lower back) and Myles Turner (sprained left ankle) and remained without T.J. Warren, who hasn’t played since Dec. 29 due to a stress fracture in his left foot.
Indiana coming off a 109-106 overtime victory at Miami on Sunday afternoon. Brogdon and Turner had both played in that game.
Even without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks made short work of the Pacers as Holiday recorded season highs in both points and assists.
Indiana’s Doug McDermott opened the game with a 3-pointer, but the Bucks scored the next 19 points and stayed in command the rest of the way.
The Bucks went 9 of 10 from 3-point range in the first 9 1/2 minutes and led 48-26 by the end of the first quarter. That 48-point outburst represented the fifth-highest point total the Bucks have ever recorded in a single quarter.
Indiana got 22 points from Domantas Sabonis, 21 from Jeremy Lamb, 20 from McDermott and 19 from Caris LeVert.
Pacers: While Jrue Holiday had arguably his best game of the season, his brothers on Indiana's roster struggled. Justin Holiday hit consecutive 3-pointers in overtime to lead the Pacers past the Heat on Sunday, but he scored just three points and shot 1 of 10 (all 3-point attempts) on Monday. Aaron Holiday, was scoreless in 17 minutes and shot 0 for 7.
Bucks: Connaughton was making his 13th start in 322 career regular-season games. … The Bucks led 83-60 and matched their highest first-half point total of the season. ... The Bucks are 9-0 against Central Division foes this season. They’re 36-3 against Central teams since the start of the 2018-19 season.
Pacers: Host Detroit on Wednesday for just their third home contest in their last 13 games.
Bucks: Host Boston on Wednesday in the first of two consecutive games with the Celtics. The Bucks haven’t faced the Celtics since losing 122-121 at Boston in their season opener.
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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press