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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 08: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is fouled by Devin Booker #1 and Torrey Craig #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half in Game Two of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo : Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns will head to Milwaukee with momentum on their side after beating the Bucks 118-108 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. Devin Booker scored 31 points for the Suns, who now hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After losing Game 1 by 13 points, the Bucks made it a point to start Game 2 strongly. They did just that, building a quick 14-9 lead with 12 of their points coming inside the paint. The Suns, who shot just 3 of 10 from the field to start the game, were able to remain within striking distance of the Bucks, however, thanks to their red-hot shooting from deep.
Suns explode from the three-point area
They made eight of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter to trail by just 29-26 at the end of the opening period. Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Devin Booker each had two three-pointers, while Cam Johnson and Torrey Craig contributed one three-pointer apiece.
The Suns took control of proceedings in the latter stages of the first half, finishing with a 15-4 blast that turned a 41-41 ballgame into a 56-45 advantage for Phoenix at half-time. Bridges led all Suns scorers at this stage with 13 points, while Devin Booker recorded 10 points, four rebounds, and five assists in a dazzling first-half performance.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, their two main scorers in Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton misfired in the opening half. Holiday scored just seven points on a woeful 3 of 14 shooting from the field in the first half. Middleton was even worse, scoring a measly four points on 2 of 10 shooting from the floor.
The Suns stretched their lead to 14 points at the start of the second half but could not finish off the Bucks as Giannis Antetokounmpo started to go to work. The Greek Freak wreaked havoc on the Phoenix defense, scoring 13 consecutive points to keep Milwaukee in the game as the Bucks sliced the deficit to just five points.
Giannis erupts in the third quarter, but he gets no help
He finished the third quarter with 20 points, the most Antetokounmpo has scored in a quarter in his playoff career. That’s the most points scored in a Finals quarter in the last 25 seasons, eclipsing LeBron James and Kobe Bryant’s mark of 19 points. He fell two points shy, though, of Michael Jordan’s tally, who scored 22 points in a quarter in a 1993 Finals game against the Suns.
It’s simply remarkable what Antetokounmpo is doing in this series after hyperextending his left knee in the series against the Atlanta Hawks. He initially feared he would be out for a year, telling reporters pre-match, “I couldn’t walk, and my knee was like double the size. Usually, I never swell up. But you know, I woke up the next day, did whatever it’s called, MRI or X-ray — I don’t know what it’s called, and they said I’m good. And I was like, ‘Thank God.'”
The Suns threatened to blow the game wide open in the fourth quarter behind the heroics of Booker, building a 103-90 lead. The Bucks answered back, though, with a 7-0 run to cut the lead to six. That was the closest they got to the Suns’ lead in the fourth quarter as Phoenix held on for the Game 2 win.
For the Bucks to win Game 3, they will need to get Giannis some support. Antetokounmpo waged a solo battle against the Suns, scoring a whopping 42 points and grabbing 12 boards in Game 2. It’s imperative for the Bucks that Middleton and Holiday get their games going back in Milwaukee. They combined for just 28 points on an atrocious 12-of-37 shooting from the field in Game 2.
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