Turns out, he had reason for concern.
“If you’re a team without a great record, and you’ve got a chance to knock off one of the top dogs, that’s obviously a win that scores more points with you,” Vogel said before the Pacers‘ 101-96 comeback victory Thursday night.
Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Paul George and Lance Stephenson each scored 18 points for Indiana. The Pacers, 44-13 overall and an NBA-best 28-3 at home, blew a 17-point lead in the first half.
“They’re a real good team and I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping it close into the fourth quarter,” Bucks rookie guard Nate Wolters said. “But then just like the other night we let it slip away. It wasn’t real hard to get up for these guys tonight.”
The Bucks, an NBA-worst 11-46, tied it at 50 at the half and built a six-point lead in the third quarter. Brandon Knight had 23 points for Milwaukee, Khris Middleton added 22, O.J. Mayo had 14, and Ramon Sessions 13. Ersan Ilysova had 11 rebounds and nine points.
“We’re still a team that’s pretty much trying to find something to hang our hat on,” Mayo said. “We’re a young team that is still learning and we just have to keep getting better every day. This was definitely a winnable game, but we made too many mistakes on the road against the best team in the Eastern Conference.”
Indiana led 32-15 early in the second quarter after going 13 of 19 from the field in the first 12 minutes. The Pacers were 8 of 19 in the second quarter, while the Bucks shot 13 of 21 after going 7 of 22 in the first.
“I don’t think our guys let down at all,” Vogel said. “They understand a 15-point lead in the first quarter means nothing.”
Stephenson’s layup put the Pacers up 50-38 with 2:10 to play in the first half. But Middleton scored seven straight points, and Knight had the last five points of the half as the Bucks used a 12-0 run to tie it.
“They’ve got a lot of great shot-makers over there, that’s why they’ve been staying in games here lately,” Hill said.
The Bucks got no closer than two points the rest of the way.