INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Danny Granger scored 29 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-109 on Thursday night and clinch homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
George Hill had 22 points and eight assists and David West added 21 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Pacers, who won their seventh straight and 11th of 12. The Pacers have scored at least 100 points in 12 of their last 13 games.
Brandon Jennings scored 27 points and former Pacer Mike Dunleavy added 23 for the Bucks. Monta Ellis, one of Milwaukee's top scorers, finished with 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Milwaukee lost its third straight and is running out of time to catch Philadelphia for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Indiana controlled most of the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee rallied.
Luc Mbah A Moute hit a 3-pointer, his first of the season, to cut Indiana's lead to 113-108 with 36.8 seconds remaining. Hill made the second of two free throws with 36.1 seconds remaining to push Indiana's lead to six points. Granger made two free throws, then Paul George thrilled the crowd with a dunk to put the final touch on Indiana's win.
West's tip-in at the buzzer gave the Pacers a 56-50 lead at halftime. The Pacers scored the final eight points of the first half after squandering a 12-point lead.
In one frantic third-quarter sequence, Indiana's Lou Amundson blocked a shot by Milwaukee's Drew Gooden, then threw a pass into traffic that Hill somehow snagged. Hill found Leandro Barbosa, who drained a 3-pointer as Beno Udrih fouled him. Barbosa converted the four-point play to give Indiana an 86-71 lead.
The Pacers led 89-78 at the end of the third quarter. Jennings scored 11 points in the period to prevent the Bucks from getting blown out.
With just over 9 minutes left, Dunleavy drove to the basket and Barbosa fouled him hard. Dunleavy fell onto Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough, and Hansbrough and Dunleavy had to be separated. There still was bad blood between the two because Dunleavy broke Hansbrough's nose on March 24. Barbosa was called for a flagrant 1 foul, and Dunleavy made both free throws to cut Indiana's lead to 93-85.
Later, Milwaukee's Larry Sanders, already called for a technical earlier in the fourth quarter, caused a scuffle while walking away after committing a foul. Sanders went after Granger, and Sanders' teammates held him back while Pacers coach Frank Vogel held back Granger. Sanders was ejected and Granger and West were issued technical fouls with 3:29 remaining. The exchange energized Milwaukee, and the Bucks made the game close in the final minutes.
Notes: Indiana made 12 of its first 15 shots. ... The Pacers led 34-29 at the end of the first quarter. ... Indiana shot 33 percent and Milwaukee shot 29 percent in an ugly second quarter. ... Indiana won 105-99 at Milwaukee on Saturday. ... Indiana had held nine straight opponents under 100 points. ... Indiana G Darren Collison sat out for the fifth time in six games with a sore groin. ... It was the second time in the past three games West has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Pacers improved to 7-0 with Hill as their starting point guard.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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