Devin Booker and Phoenix Suns torch Bucks to go halfway home in NBA finals

  • Phoenix win 118-108 over Milwaukee in Game 2 of NBA finals
  • Antetokounmpo has 42 points and 12 rebounds in losing effort
  • Bucks take two-games-to-none lead in best-of-seven series

The ball went from Chris Paul to Devin Booker and didn’t stop moving until Deandre Ayton scored after every Suns player had touched it.

The 10-pass sequence was the prettiest play of the NBA finals and the kind the one-man show Bucks couldn’t dream of.

“I think that was the most pumped I’ve been after the playoffs,” Booker said.

Imagine the feeling if his team gets two more wins.

Booker scored 31 points, Paul had 23 and the Suns beat Milwaukee 118-108 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 series lead.

The Suns have never been closer to an NBA title. Not bad for a team whose coach told them earlier this season had the league’s sorriest starting unit, forcing the players to figure things out.

“We did and we’re going to keep it going,” Paul said.

Booker made seven three-pointers and the Suns went 20 for 40 behind the arc. Mikal Bridges scored 27 points, and Paul finished with eight assists.

The Suns surged ahead late in the first half, withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s all-around effort to bring the Bucks back, and walked off winners again as fans swung orange rally towels all around them.

Antetokounmpo had 42 points and 12 rebounds in his second game back after missing two games because of a hyperextended left knee.

The Suns never even had a lead in the NBA finals until their 118-105 victory in Game 1. They dropped the first two games in both 1976 and 1993, their only other appearances, and didn’t win more than two games in either series.

They’ve already got two this time and will go after a third Sunday in Milwaukee, which will host the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974.

“We know what the deal is,” Antetokounpo said. “We’ve got to go back home and protect home.”

Jrue Holiday played more aggressively but didn’t shoot a whole lot better than in Game 1, scoring 17 points but hitting only 7 for 21. Khris Middleton was 5 for 16, forcing Antetokounmpo to carry an even heavier load on his sore left leg.

It adds up to the Bucks having to overcome a 2-0 deficit for the second time this postseason. They did it against the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but had some help when first James Harden and then Kyrie Irving were injured.

Now they are facing a Suns team loaded with weapons all over the lineup, and showed off all of them in the prettiest play of this series.

They whipped the ball all around the perimeter for the final basket of the first half. It went from Paul to Booker to Jae Crowder to Bridges, back to Crowder to Paul, then over to Crowder and once again Bridges. He then finally fed it inside to Ayton, who scored while being fouled with 14.9 seconds left for a 56-45 lead at the break.

The Bucks could only dream of having that many guys involved. Antetokounmpo’s 15 field goals were more than twice as many as any other Milwaukee player.

Phoenix opened a 65-50 lead with a good start to the third, but Antetokounmpo – and pretty much only Antetokounmpo – kept the game from getting away from the Bucks. He scored 20 of the Bucks’ 33 points in the third, the first 20-point period in the finals since Michael Jordan against the Suns in 1993.

“Nothing Giannis does surprises me anymore. He’s got the nickname Freak for a reason,” Bucks guard Pat Connaughton said. “I will say it’s incredible what he’s been able to do, and it hasn’t happened without time he’s put in to get himself ready, get his body better and continue to do the things that he does to be a two-time MVP.”

Milwaukee got it all the way down to six in the fourth, but Paul nailed a three-pointer and Bridges had a basket to quickly push the lead back to double digits.

Milwaukee outscored Phoenix 20-0 in the paint in the first quarter, but eight of the Suns’ nine baskets were three-pointers and they were behind just 29-26.

Only two fouls – both on the Suns – were called in a clean quarter. Antetokounmpo took the only two free throws, making one and shooting an airball on the second as fans continued counting, as they have in Bucks’ road games during the playoffs to show that he often doesn’t appear to shoot them within the allotted 10 seconds.

It was tied at 41 with just under five minutes left in the half before the Suns surged ahead with precision offense and some shutdown defense. They finished with a 15-4 run, the Bucks managing just a pair of baskets by Antetokounmpo.

He tried to fire up his teammates with some screaming on the bench during a timeout, but he couldn’t put the ball into the basket for them. The Bucks were a dismal 6 for 25 in the period, missing 10 of their 12 three-point tries.

Agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
NBA finals 2021 Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks 105-118 Phoenix Suns – as it happened
Minute-by-minute report: Chris Paul scored 32 in his NBA finals debut and the Suns defeated the Bucks to draw first blood in their championship series

Hunter Felt

07, Jul, 2021 @3:36 AM

Article image
NBA finals 2021 Game 5: Milwaukee Bucks 123-119 Phoenix Suns – as it happened
Minute-by-minute report: The Bucks are just one victory from the NBA title after a tight victory in Phoenix over the Suns

Hunter Felt

18, Jul, 2021 @4:02 AM

Article image
NBA finals 2021 Game 4: Phoenix Suns 103-109 Milwaukee Bucks – as it happened
Rolling report: The Bucks fought back in the fourth quarter to see off the Suns and even the NBA finals at two games apiece

Hunter Felt

15, Jul, 2021 @4:02 AM

Article image
NBA finals predictions: Bucks or Suns? Our writers share their picks
Will the Bucks end a 50-year drought or can Chris Paul lift the Suns to their first NBA title? Our writers predict the winner, key players and dark horses

Oliver Connolly, Tyrell Feaster, Hunter Felt and Bryan Armen Graham

06, Jul, 2021 @7:30 AM

Article image
Imperious Antetokounmpo hauls Bucks to Game 3 win over Suns in NBA finals
Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 41 points as the Bucks won 120-100 over the Suns in Game 3 of the NBA finals on Sunday night in Milwaukee

Agencies

12, Jul, 2021 @2:50 AM

Article image
Dogged Bucks rally past Suns in Game 4 to level NBA finals at two games apiece
Khris Middleton erupted for a team-high 40 points and the Bucks evened the NBA finals with a 109-103 win over the Suns in Game 4 on Wednesday

Agencies

15, Jul, 2021 @3:50 AM

Article image
Chris Paul scores 32 in NBA finals debut as Phoenix take Game 1 from Milwaukee
Chris Paul had 32 points and nine assists and the Suns beat the returning Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks 118-105 on Tuesday night in Game 1

Agencies

07, Jul, 2021 @3:40 AM

Article image
The Suns are in trouble but Monty Williams knows what true darkness is
Phoenix have taken a battering by Milwaukee in the last two games of the NBA finals. But their coach has overcome grief and adversity to get here

Andrew Lawrence

17, Jul, 2021 @9:23 AM

Article image
Freak out! Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 50 power Milwaukee Bucks to first NBA title since 1971
Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA finals ever with 50 points and a championship Milwaukee waited 50 years to win again

Agencies

21, Jul, 2021 @6:49 AM

Article image
With Giannis less than 100%, the NBA finals already feel like Chris Paul’s series
Phoenix were impressive during their victory over Milwaukee in the series opener and Giannis Antetokounmpo is probably the only man who can stop them

Oliver Connolly

07, Jul, 2021 @11:13 AM