Giannis Antetokounmpo had a historic 42 point, 12 rebound performance but it was not enough as the Phoenix Suns took Game 2, 118 – 108, to go 2-0 up in the NBA Finals.
Devin Booker hit seven of his team’s postseason-franchise-record 20 three-pointers while scoring 31 points as the Suns overcame a playoff-career-best performance by Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo.
Seeking the first NBA title in their 53-year history, the Suns will hit the road as the scene shifts to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday night, both live on Sky Sports.
En route to their eighth win in 10 home games this postseason, the Suns grabbed an 11-point half-time lead and kept the Bucks at arm’s length throughout the final 24 minutes.
Milwaukee got as close as 93-88 after a Brook Lopez layup with 8:45 to play, but Deandre Ayton turned a Chris Paul assist into a layup and Booker bombed in a three-pointer to quickly extend the margin into double figures again.
Booker connected on another three-pointer to make it a 13-point lead, but the Bucks would not go away. Jrue Holiday and Antetokounmpo did all the scoring in a 7-0 burst that got Milwaukee back within 103-97 with 5:15 to go, but this time it was Paul who hit the rally-killing hoop, a three-pointer that pushed the advantage back to nine.
The Bucks, who also fell behind the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 on the road before winning the Eastern Conference semi-final series in seven games, never got closer than eight in the final four minutes.
Booker’s 31 points came on 12-for-25 shooting overall and 7-for-12 from three-point range.
With Paul, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder hitting three three-pointers apiece, the Suns went 20-for-40 from beyond the arc, outscoring the Bucks 60-27 from deep.
Bridges finished with 27 points – a new playoff career-high – while hitting all eight of his free throws and hauling down seven rebounds.
Paul followed a dominant Game 1 performance with 23 points for the Suns, who overcame 18 Bucks offensive boards and 23-14 disparity in free-throw attempts to gain their third straight 2-0 advantage in the postseason.
Crowder (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Ayton (10 points, 11 rebounds) made it five Suns starters with double-figure points.
Antetokounmpo, who also found time for a game-high 12 rebounds, scored 20 of his 42 points in the third quarter and 30 in the second half. It was not enough for a team that was outshot 48.9 per cent to 45.2 per cent from the field.
The 42 points were one more than his previous postseason-high, which he set in the first round in 2019 at Detroit.
Holiday totalled 17 points, Pat Connaughton 14 and Khris Middleton 11 for the Bucks, who have gone 7-1 at home in the postseason.
Seeking to avoid the type of start that saw them never hold a lead over the final 40 minutes of Game 1, the Bucks led by as many as nine in the first half Thursday before eventually getting buried in a barrage of Suns three-pointers.
Phoenix had 11 in the first half – matching its number of two-pointers. Crowder and Bridges each hit a trey a 15-4 run over the final 4:39 of the second quarter that turned a 41-all tie into a 56-45 advantage.