Bucks push Bulls to the brink in NBA playoffs

Bucks push Bulls to the brink in NBA playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered game highs of 32 points and 17 rebounds to lead the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks over Chicago 119-95 on Sunday in the NBA playoffs.The Greek star center also passed off seven assists and blocked two shots as the Bucks seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which continues Wednesday in Milwaukee.

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Bucks reserve Grayson Allen scored 27 on 10-of-12 shooting, 6-of-7 from 3-point range, while Jrue Holiday added 26 points and Bobby Portis had 14 for Milwaukee.

“I’ve got to trust my teamamtes,” said Antetokounmpo. “They know what the deal is. They can all make plays. The games become easy when you move the ball.”

The Bulls, who haven’t won a home playoff game since 2015, were led by Zach LaVine with 24 points and 13 assists while DeMar DeRozan added 23 points.

Chicago shot only 38.9% from the floor, a defensive effort Antetokounmpo said the Bucks must repeat if they want to end the series at home in game five.

“We’ve got to keep up our defense,” he said. “We’ve got to make it tough for them and we’ve got to hit our shots.”

The Bucks were without forward Khris Middleton, out for the remainder of the series due to a left knee injury suffered in a game two loss.

Portis replaced him, wearing glasses to protect an eye injury, and scored seven points in a 9-2 run that gave Milwaukee a 20-12 lead.

LaVine scored 12 points and assisted on four other first-quarter baskets to lift the Bulls within 25-22.

Antetokounmpo sank a turnaround jumper to give the Bucks their biggest lead at 39-28, back-to-back jumpers by Portis stretched it to 43-31 and back-to-back 3-pointers by Allen and Holiday made it 54-39 on the way to a 56-41 halftime lead.

Milwaukee began the second half with a 9-2 run for a game-high 65-43 edge. Chicago answered with an 17-3 spurt to pull within 68-60, only for the Bucks to reel off the next 11 points, Antetokounmpo scoring six and assisting on an Allen 3-pointer in the run for a 79-60 edge.

The Bulls came no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

Later playoff games Sunday find Golden State trying to complete a sweep at Denver, Miami at Atlanta and Phoenix at New Orleans.

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