Giannis has 54 but Bucks lose as Griffin tossed

Angela Davis

Giannis has 54 but Bucks lose as Griffin tossed

INDIANAPOLIS — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored an NBA season-high 54 points but committed two turnovers after Tyrese Haliburton’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:29 left, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 126-124 on Thursday night.

Haliburton had 29 points and 10 assists and Bennedict Mathurin added 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who blew an 18-point lead and then had to rally from 10 down in the fourth quarter.

Antetokounmpo finished one point shy of his career high but threw away a pass with 1:03 left and was then stripped by Mathurin with 30 seconds to go, both with the Bucks trailing 122-121. He was 19-for-25 from the field, 16-of-18 on free throws and grabbed 12 rebounds, but also had eight turnovers.

The Bucks were without their first-year head coach for much of the second half as Adrian Griffin was ejected with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. He was the recipient of a double technical foul immediately following Antetokounmpo’s dunk in traffic. A night earlier, after Antetokounmpo was ejected in a 120-118 win over Detroit, Griffin had promised to be more vocal with officials regarding hits on his superstar.

Playing without All-Star Damian Lillard, sidelined by calf soreness, Milwaukee received a breathtaking performance from Antetokounmpo, who was three points shy of Michael Redd’s franchise record. Khris Middleton, who had 19 points and made a 3 at the final buzzer, missed a 3 that would have tied the game with 7 seconds left.

With 8.4 seconds to go and Indiana clinging to a one-point lead, Mathurin connected on two free throws to make it 124-121. Bruce Brown, who had 11 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, sealed the win with two foul shots of his own in the final seconds.

The Pacers roared to an 18-point lead in the first quarter and led 38-24 at the end of the period on the strength of eight 3-point makes. Milwaukee climbed within 66-60 at halftime and pulled even at 71 on two free throws from Middleton with 9:32 left in the third.

The Bucks went ahead by as many as 10 in the final period and still led 117-108 with 5 minutes left.

Antetokounmpo scored 26 points in the first half, including 18 in the second quarter, and then 20 more in the third period. He reached 50 with 10:28 left on a layup assisted by Middleton’s over-the-top pass, prompting an Indiana timeout.

Milwaukee shot 53% from the floor but made only 9-of-27 from distance.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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