Portis makes up for Game 4 ejection, keeps Bucks alive

Portis makes up for Game 4 ejection, keeps Bucks alive
Basketball (File Photo)

MILWAUKEE — Bobby Portis apologized to his teammates for his ejection from a Game 4 loss that put the Milwaukee Bucks on the brink of playoff elimination.

Then he made amends by helping the Bucks keep their season alive.

Portis and Khris Middleton each scored 29 points and the short-handed Bucks routed the Indiana Pacers 115-92 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on Tuesday night.

The Pacers still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday in Indianapolis.

“Thursday will be fun,” Portis said. “I can hear some ‘Bobby Sucks!’ chants. I’m ready, man. I’m fired up. I’m already ready for it.”

Injured stars

Milwaukee won without injured stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard as the Fiserv Forum crowd chanted: “Bucks In Seven.”

Antetokounmpo has missed this entire series and hasn’t played since straining his left calf on April 9. Lillard sat out a second straight game after injuring his Achilles tendon in the Bucks’ 121-118 Game 3 loss on Friday.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers was asked after Game 5 about their potential availability for the rest of the series.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Rivers said. “I know I hope. I think they’re very, very, very close.”

Skirmish

The Bucks stayed alive thanks in part to a huge performance from Portis, who had been ejected just seven minutes into Game 4 after getting into a skirmish with Indiana’s Andrew Nembhard.

Portis said he watched the rest of that game while still in uniform, wondering about all the ways in which his presence on the floor might have made a difference.

He came back Tuesday and produced the highest playoff point total of his career. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.

“I maybe crossed the line, you feel me, and let my team down by getting ejected and not being available for my team,” Portis said. “I pride myself so much on being available.”

Middleton had his third straight game with at least 25 points, and he also had 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Bucks are trying to win a series after trailing 3-1 for the first time in franchise history. The Pacers are attempting to advance beyond the opening round for the first time since 2014.

“We’ve just got to understand that they’re a team that’s on the brink of their season being done, and they’re playing desperate, they’re playing hard, as they should be,” Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton said. “At the end of the day, they outcompeted us tonight. They played harder. They played better. They kind of just dominated us in every facet of the game tonight.”

Haliburton scored 16 points to lead the Pacers, who had their lowest scoring total of the season. Myles Turner added 13. Obi Toppin, Nembhard and Pascal Siakam had 12 each. / AP

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