Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Milwaukee to a 123-116 victory in Boston that put the Bucks 2-1 up in their NBA playoff series against the Celtics.
The top-seeded Bucks scored 40 points in the third quarter and pulled away for a victory that saw them regain home-court advantage in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second round series, in which they were stung at home in game one.
“I’m just trusting myself, I just have confidence in myself,” said Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player candidate Antetokounmpo. “That’s what my teammates want me to do.
“They want me to stay aggressive, they want me to make the right play — that’s what I’m going to keep doing the whole series.”
Boston led 56-55 at halftime, leading by as many as 12 before the Bucks battled back to narrow the gap.
Milwaukee’s 40 third-quarter points were the most scored by either team in a single period in the series.
They connected on 11 of 18 from the field with Milwaukee guard George Hill draining a pair of three-pointers in a 12-0 scoring run.
Boston scored 31 points in the period, but Milwaukee held the Celtics without a field goal in the final 3:44 of the quarter — then opened the fourth on an 11-3 scoring run, stretching their lead to as many as 17 points.
The Celtics again cut the deficit to single digits, Al Horford’s three-pointer with 10.6 seconds left pulling Boston within 116-121.
But Antetokounmpo, who scored half his points at the free throw line, made two last foul shots to close it out.
Antetokounmpo added eight assists and three blocked shots.
Hill connected on nine of 12 from the field to score 21 off the bench and Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks.
Kyrie Irving led Boston with 29 points. Jayson Tatum contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points for the Celtics, who will try to turn the tables when they host game four on Monday.
“We definitely have a lot of momentum,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to keep playing good basketball, we’ve got to keep defending.” (Agence France-Presse)