Giannis scores 50 to propel Bucks to first NBA title since 1971

MILWAUKEE: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo) scored 50 points in an astonishing overall performance and the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA title since 1971 by beating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Tuesday.

The Bucks won the best of seven NBA Finals by four games to two, becoming the fifth team to win the crown after losing the first two games.

Antetokounmpo, only the seventh player in Finals history with a 50-point game, added 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Bucks clocked the NBA’s best 10-1 at home in the playoffs to end the their title drought of 50 years.

“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I want to thank my teammates for playing hard with me, ”said Antetokounmpo. “I am grateful that I was able to do this.”

NBA two-time MVP Antetokounmpo had been questionable for the first game with a hyperextended knee.

But the 26-year-old Greek forward tied Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win the NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

“He’s a special human being. I have learned so much from him. He’s a special leader, ”Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “These players are champions every day. They agreed to improve each day. “

An expanded “Deer District” party area outside the 20,000 sold-out arena hosted 65,000 people watching on video screens and had the celebration they had hoped to enjoy.

“I’m glad I got to do it with this team for Milwaukee,” said Antetokounmpo. “And Coach Bud says we have to do it again.”

The Suns were foiled in their bid for the first crown in their 53-year history. Phoenix goaltender Chris Paul, who played in the first NBA Finals when he was 16 at 36, led the Suns with 26 points.

“It hurts. It hurts,” said Sun coach Monty Williams. “But I’m also grateful that I had this chance to play for a championship. In the fourth quarter it was pretty obvious we weren’t. just couldn’t score enough. We just couldn’t convert. “

The relentless Antetokounmpo, an often weak free throw shooter who shot 17 of 19 from the line, scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter in a 16-8 Bucks run that gave Milwaukee a 58- lead. 55 only 4:34 in Part Two.

He was the first with a 20-point quarterback in the final since Jordan and the game stuck with knife edge, stalling 77-77 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Antetokounmpo scored eight for the Bucks in a 10-6 run to Milwaukee for a 94-88 lead midway through the fourth quarter and time and time again he responded when the Suns cut the Bucks lead.

Jae Crowder of Phoenix made two free throws to bring the Suns down to 100-96 with 1:14 remaining, but Khris Middleton responded with a jumper and added two free throws for an eight-point lead in Milwaukee.

Paul missed a 3 point, Middleton grabbed the rebound and Bucks fans started celebrating.

“Everyone has to deal with this and put their ideas together,” Paul said after the game.

Middleton added 17 points for the Bucks while Bobby Portis had 16 off the Bucks bench and Jrue Holiday had 12 points and 11 assists.

Devin Booker added 19 points for Phoenix while Crowder had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns.

Paul fell to 0-13 in the playoffs when Game 6 umpire team manager Scott Foster officiated. Paul had criticized Foster after past outings.

The streak included Milwaukee’s victory in Game 3 of the Final, in which Antetokounmpo made 17 free throws and the Suns had just 16. – AFP

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