Giannis Antetokounmpo captured the NBA Finals moment MILWAUKEE – When Giannis Antetokounmpo crashed onto the court just two weeks ago with a serious knee injury, there were no guarantees that he would return this season.
Perhaps, he feared, he might even lose a year.
Antetokounmpo refused to stay down.
These Milwaukee Bucks won’t come either.
Giannis Antetokounmpo captured the NBA Finals moment Antetokounmpo had 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists when the NBA Finals returned to Milwaukee, and the Bucks beat Phoenix 120-100 Sunday night and cut the Suns’ lead 2-1.
“We knew what kind of game it was going to be,” Antetokounmpo said. “We knew that if we lost the game, you’re in the gap.”
Instead, the Bucks started raising one.
The first game of the NBA Finals in Milwaukee since 1974 went wildly home, with Antetokounmpo and the bigger Bucks outscoring the little Suns with a 20-2 advantage in second-chance points.
Game four is Wednesday night and the series is guaranteed later in Phoenix.
“I said it after the last game. This team will not give up. They keep playing all the time, ”said Suns star Devin Booker. “So we have to make the same effort that we did in the first two games, and I think we are in good shape.”
Antetokounmpo, who missed the last two games of the Eastern Conference final due to an overstretched left knee and wasn’t even sure he was ready to start this series, followed a 42-point, 12-ball performance in Game 2 to do it all over again, even your free kick this time.
Antetokounmpo went 13 of 17 behind in front of his own fans and without the loud noise he had heard on the road. With two consecutive 40-point games in the NBA Finals, he is halfway through Michael Jordan’s record against the Suns.
Chris Paul scored 19 points and nine assists, but the Suns missed none of their star wrestling partners. Booker shot 3 of 14 and scored just 10 points.
Jrue Holiday bounced back from two weak games at Phoenix with five 3s and 21 points to get the Bucks back on the comeback route. Khris Middleton added 18.
“We all hate losing and we know the end goal,” Holiday said.
Fans yelled “Bucks in 6!” Dollars in 6! He sings when Milwaukee started to fold in the first half and then again when the benches cleared in the final minutes.
The Bucks are seeking their second NBA title and haven’t even played one in 47 years. They took control of this game by beating Phoenix 30-9 in the final nine minutes of the second quarter and finishing third with a 16-0 finish.
Fans started their way to the Deer area out of the arena in mid-afternoon, and so many fans were green that the Fiserv Forum felt more like Fiserv Forest.
They weren’t allowed to cheer up as much as they wanted at first after the strong start for the Suns, who scored 12 points from Deandre Ayton in the inaugural season. But Ayton was upset about the mistakes, and the Bucks soon ran past and carried on.
Antetokounmpo scored seven points in a row to end the 9-0 streak in the second second, giving Milwaukee a six-point lead, and when Phoenix scored four in a row, the Bucks were back up at 16-3.
Bobby Portis had the last two baskets at halftime, and he took a pretty quick break with one of them, and the break was 60-45.
The lead was 13 with less than eight minutes to go in the third when Cam Johnson passed through midfield near the open road to the basket. P.J. Tucker tried to intervene, but it was too late and Johnson threw it at him while he made a mistake.
He unleashed a 14-5 streak that reduced him to 74-70 and appeared to bring the Suns back into the game. Just as quickly, they left again.
Holiday scored two 3s in the next minute, and Milwaukee pushed the lead to nine, and by the end of the third, it had risen to a 98-76 level.
The Bucks, who lost their first two games to Brooklyn in the second round, avoided falling to a 3-0 hole from which no NBA team has escaped.
They limited the Suns to nine 3-pointers after Phoenix hit 20 in their Game 2 win.
Ayton and Jae Crowder each scored 18 points for the Suns. But Mikal Bridges, who had a career-high 27 in Game 2, took just four shots and scored four points.
Suns: Torrey Craig scored two points in 15 minutes with a right knee injury in Game 2. He rose gently behind his lungs to save Paul’s bad pass, which went out of bounds in the second quarter. … Frank Kaminsky, former Wisconsin college player of the year, scored six points after going undefeated in two games at Phoenix.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo made his 11th game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, beating Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974 by the most