Pacers end playoff drought, eliminate Bucks

CELEBRATION. Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks after winning Game 6, 120-98. / AP
CELEBRATION. Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks after winning Game 6, 120-98. / AP

INDIANAPOLIS — Obi Toppin scored 21 points, T.J. McConnell had 20 points and nine assists and the Indiana Pacers won a playoff series for the first time in a decade, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 120-98 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

The Pacers will face New York in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Monday.

Indiana’s milestone victory came exactly 30 years after it swept Orlando 3-0 to advance in the NBA playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and it came on a night the Bucks again were without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time league MVP never played after straining his left calf April 9.

Damian Lillard, meanwhile, returned from a right Achilles injury and played well — but was not nearly as dominant as he was in the first two games when he scored 69 points. Lillard finished with 28 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

Bobby Portis Jr. added 20 points and 15 rebounds for Milwaukee. Brook Lopez also had 20 points, and Khris Middleton had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Two-time All-Star Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for Indiana, and Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. Toppin and McConnell each had playoff career-high scoring totals, and McConnell also had four steals.

KNICKS 118, 76ERS 115

In Philadelphia, Josh Hart raised his arms and extended three fingers on each hand on his go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 24.4 seconds left that was finally enough to send New York past Philadelphia in Game 6 and into the second round of the playoffs.

Jalen Brunson had 41 points and 12 assists to lead the Knicks.

The Knicks are through to the second round in consecutive years for the first time since the postseasons from 1992-2000.

In a series defined by tight games, Hart hit the clutch shot that again had “Let’s go Knicks!” chants echoing throughout Philly’s home court. Joel Embiid scored a bucket but fouled out on the next possession. Donte DiVincenzo sealed New York’s win with two free throws.

Naturally, it was the former Villanova Wildcats trio of Hart, DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson that saved the Knicks from a first-half collapse that was nearly enough to force a Game 7. DiVincenzo scored 23 points and Hart had 16.

Embiid finished with 39 points and 13 rebounds. Buddy Hield had 20 points. After dropping 45 points in Game 5, Tyrese Maxey was a non-factor in the first half and finished with 17. / AP

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