Bucks close in on NBA title, rally past Suns

By: Reuters July 18,2021 - 01:15 PM

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates a win against the Phoenix Suns with teammates in Game Five of the NBA Finals at Footprint Center on July 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 32 points and nine rebounds to fuel the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to a 123-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Khris Middleton added 29 points for the Bucks, who shot a blistering 57.5 percent from the floor to win their third straight game and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Milwaukee can clinch its second NBA title in franchise history and first since 1971 when it returns home for Game 6 on Tuesday.

Jrue Holiday collected 27 points and 13 assists to bounce back from a dismal 4-for-20 performance from the floor in Game 4. He also had a key steal of Devin Booker in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to thwart a late Phoenix comeback bid.

The Bucks overcame an early 16-point deficit by erupting for 43 points in the second quarter.

Milwaukee became the second team in NBA Finals history to lead at halftime after trailing by as many as 15 points after the first quarter. The Boston Celtics previously accomplished the feat in the 1957 Finals against the St. Louis Hawks.

Booker scored 40 points in a losing effort. It marked the fourth time he reached the 40-point plateau in this postseason.

Chris Paul finished with 21 points and 11 assists and Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix.

The Suns trimmed a 10-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter down to three after Booker drained a 3-pointer. Antetokounmpo missed both free-throw attempts on the next possession and Paul made a driving layup to trim Milwaukee’s lead to 120-119 with 56.6 seconds remaining.

Holiday stole the ball from Booker and set up Antetokounmpo for an alley-oop with 13.5 seconds to play. Antetokounmpo missed the ensuing free throw, but Milwaukee regained possession and Phoenix promptly fouled Middleton. He made one of two attempts to make it a two-possession game.

The Suns were scorching hot right out of the gate, making 14 of 19 shots from the floor and 5 of 6 from 3-point range to seize a 37-21 lead after the first quarter.

The Bucks countered with a 29-12 run to start the second quarter. Bobby Portis capped the surge with a 3-pointer to give Milwaukee a 50-49 lead.

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TAGS: Bucks, Game 5, Giannis Antetokounmpo, NBA Finals, Suns

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