Running thoughts: Pacers 109, Bucks 96

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 109-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • Bojan Bogdanovic returned after missing his first game of the season due to a sprained left ankle.
  • The Pacers wore their (white) Hickory uniforms for the second time this season. They will wear them six more times, including twice more at home. … Love these uniforms, by the way. So clean.
  • In case you missed it, they released veteran Damien Wilkins Sunday after practice and ahead of the NBA deadline when his contract would have become guaranteed for the rest of the year.
  • Myles Turner got off to a strong start that he needed after several sub-par performances over the last few weeks. He had six points, a rebound, an assist, two steals, and three blocks in the first seven minutes.
  • When Turner went to the bench, he was holding his right elbow. Perhaps it was a stinger from his one-handed jam.
  • The Pacers shot 71% in the first quarter and outscored the Bucks 22-2 over the final 6:08, including 20 in a row, for a 37-16 lead. The Bucks’ only points came from two Giannis Antetokounmpo foul shots.
  • Liked the vision by Lance Stephenson — the team’s best passer — on a sideline out of bounds (SLOB) play. He caught the defense sleeping and threw it up at the rim for Victor Oladipo. Eric Bledsoe recovered, though, at the last moment.
  • The Pacers thoroughly dominated the first half, shooting 64 percent and keeping the Bucks to 33 percent. The half was played at their tempo — as they forced 11 turnovers and had 18 fast break points to Milwaukee’s three.
  • While the Pacers’ offensive numbers were off the charts, it was the team’s defense and activity level that impressed the most. They communicated, deflected passes, and didn’t allow the Bucks to settle in.
  • Coach McMillan postgame: “We came out aggressive tonight and defensively challenged every catch. We had better pressure defensively and I thought we did a good job of establishing our defense, which forced some misses and was able to get out in transition.”
  • With Glenn Robinson III celebrating his 24th birthday, Turner’s Block — Myles’ fan area in section 17 — sang the Happy Birthday song to him in the third quarter.
  • Victor Oladipo took a hard spill at the 7:02 mark of the third quarter. He went up for a dunk and was sandwiched by two defenders, and braced his hard fall with his left wrist.
  • Oladipo with a sweet step-back jumper just beat the clock, giving the Pacers an 88-65 lead. Despite not being 100-percent healthy, his confidence is at an all-time high.
  • Stephenson was whistled for a technical foul early in the fourth period. It was his third of the season, which leads the team.
  • Indiana’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s 27-0 through three quarters.
  • Because of a 20-plus point lead, the starters rested on the bench for most during the fourth quarter. It was a balanced attack for Indiana. Seven players, including all five starters, reached double figures for the second game in a row.
  • Sabonis was effective all game long. He recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 17 points (on 8-of-12 shooting), 10 rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 24 minutes. Despite starting in 66 games his rookie season, he only had two double-doubles.
  • Towards the end of the game, Sabonis had a hard fall and got up clutching his left (shooting) wrist. X-rays taken after the game were negative.
  • Turner also had ice on his right elbow. He sustained that injury during his big jam in transition just five minutes into the game. He said it was difficult to describe how it felt, so he settled on “sore.”
  • The Pacers improved to 13-1 this season when shooting 50 percent or better. Tonight they shot 56 percent.
  • Up next: The Pacers (21-19) continue their four-game homestand on Wednesday against the Miami Heat (22-17).

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