(WFRV) – Holding a 34-point lead at one point in the game, the Milwaukee Bucks played elite level playoff basketball.
“However you get to your best competitive self, that’s what we need,” said Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “And as a group, that’s what we needed. That inner drive.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo was near perfect on the court, scoring 35 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists in leading the Bucks 121-107 over the Magic to take the series lead 2-1.
Giannis, like clockwork, was able to get to the rim with ease from the jump. Started 8-of-8 from the field and hit both of his three-pointers for 21 points heading into halftime.
“I didn’t feel any difference. Just more focused,” said Antetokounmpo. “I wasn’t focused on a perfect game, but just focused on my balance and finishing at the rim.”
The Magic had no answer down low for the Bucks as they scored 50 in the paint.
Nikola Vucevic has shown he is the one player who can really make things difficult for the Bucks defensively by averaging more than 30 points this series. On Saturday, there were multiple possessions where Milwaukee would call for the double team on Vucevic which layered frustration on Vucevic.
Vucevic was held to just 20 points.
Tensions were escalating near the five-minute mark in second quarter as Marvin Williams and James Ennis III got into it after the whistle was blown. Staff from both benches tried to break it up, but both players received double technical fouls and were ejected.
During the second quarter the Bucks went on a 25-9 run.
The Magic couldn’t wait to take a breather at the half from a 70-43 deficit. The most they have allowed in a half in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on 32 of the Bucks 70 points.
“I knew this game was big for us,” said Antetokounmpo. “But as a team I just want us to keep getting better.”
As a team the Bucks shot 56 percent from the floor and 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Khris Middleton awoke from his first two game scoring drought and scored 17 points to go along with 8 rebounds and six assists.
“It’s just about playing the right way,” said Middleton on how he fixed his struggles.
Milwaukee played all 13 of its players and Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe were key factors in the fluidity of the offense. Lopez spaced the floor with two three-pointers and finished with 16 points. Bledsoe stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 8 assists, five rebounds and three steals.
“I think a lot of guys played well. I thought the ball moved well. And that leads to good offense,” said Budenholzer.
D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross were the only other Magic who made significant contributions on offense. Augustin had 24 points, including four three’s, and Ross finished with 20 points off the bench.
Milwaukee will look to build its series lead in Game 4 on Monday at 12:30 p.m.
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