Bucks defeats Hawks 125-91 and draw East final at 1-1

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Bucks defeats Hawks 125-91 and draw East final at 1-1

MILWAUKEE (AP) β€” The Milwaukee Bucks knew the key to tying the Eastern Conference final was to make sure Trae Young didn’t take over again.

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They did that and more on Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 25 points, Jrue Holiday added 22 and the Bucks blew the Atlanta Hawks 125-91 in Game 2.

Young struggled for most of the night after finishing with 48 points and 11 assists in the Hawks’ 116-113 Game 1 win.

“The last game he lived in the paint, had a lot of floaters (and) that’s pretty much layups for him,” Holiday said. “We didn’t want him to start that early. And I think he didn’t go to the free-throw line much tonight, which is pretty big for us too.”

Young scored 15 points but equaled his worst career with nine turnovers before leaving the game for good with 3:48 left in the third quarter. He shot 6 out of 16 overall, 1 out of 8 on 3-point attempts and 2 out of 3 on free throws.

“I take full responsibility for what happened tonight,” Young said. β€œTaking care of the ball is something I need to get better at. I will get better at it. It is true that they have heightened their physicality tonight. We must do the same.”

The Bucks never trailed, scoring 20 straight runs late in the second quarter and leading by at least 30 through the second half. Both teams rested their starters throughout the fourth quarter.

This marks the third consecutive series in which the Hawks lost Game 2 after winning Game 1 on the road. Those losses in Game 2 were decided by a total of 59 points.

The series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Sunday.

β€œWe need to play harder,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan. β€œThe intensity with which they came out was no surprise to us. But they showed that there is another level we need to get to. They just dominated the whole game.”

Young said he didn’t believe the Bucks had done anything else to slow him down on Friday. He felt the Bucks were just playing more aggressively and took advantage of the way the game was called.

“If they’re aggressive and (officials) don’t mention it, nights like tonight happen,” Young said.

Milwaukee planned to make Young’s life difficult for two nights after the Bucks lost a seven-point lead in the final four minutes of Game 1. Young’s Game 1 appearance had made him the first player ever to score at least 45 points and 10 assists in a conference final game.

Young made eight turnovers in the first half alone. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton agreed that the Bucks’ aggressiveness made all the difference.

β€œThat was a huge key from Game 1 to Game 2,” said Middleton. “Game 1, they could get what they wanted on the pitch. Trae came in, threw those lobs and got everyone else involved. Tonight we wanted to set the tone and make sure they wouldn’t feel comfortable.”

Brook Lopez scored 16 points for the Bucks. Middleton had 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Antetokounmpo had nine rebounds and six assists.

Danilo Gallinari had 12 points and John Collins and Cam Reddish added 11 each for the Hawks.

Milwaukee pulled forward in the opening minutes while Antetokounmpo constantly went to the rim for easy baskets. The Bucks already held a double-digit lead before going on a 20-0 run late in the second quarter to break open the game.

“We know what we have to do,” Antetokounmpo said. “Everyone knew we had to come here to take this game. That’s what we did from first possession.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: Reddish played 17 minutes in his first game since February 21 due to an Achilles tendon injury. … Young had at least 20 points and seven assists in each of the Hawks’ 13 playoff games before Friday. He is the first ever player to have at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first 13 playoff games in his career. … Reserve striker Nathan Knight went into the locker room halfway through the fourth quarter. Knight had landed on his back after blocking a shot.

Bucks: The Bucks shot 52.1%, the first time they shot more than 50% this postseason. … Antetokounmpo’s early departure due to the lopsided score resulted in the end of his franchise-record six consecutive games in which he had at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. The last player to accumulate at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in six consecutive playoff games was Shaquille O’Neal in 2002. … The Bucks improved to 12-3 in playoff games at Fiserv Forum.

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Follow Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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