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NBA: Suns’ long-range shooting sinks Bucks in Game 2

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Devin Booker hit seven of his team’s postseason-franchise-record 20 3-pointers while scoring 31 points and Phoenix Suns went up 2-0 in the NBA Finals with a 118-108 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

The Suns overcame a playoff-career-best 42-point performance by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Seeking the first NBA title in their 53-year history, the Suns will hit the road as the scene shifts to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday.

En route to the eighth win in 10 home games this postseason, the Suns grabbed an 11-point halftime lead and kept the Bucks at arm’s length throughout the final 24 minutes.

Milwaukee got as close as 93-88 after a Brook Lopez layup with 8:45 to play, but Deandre Ayton turned a Chris Paul assist into a layup and Booker bombed in a 3-pointer to quickly extend the margin into double figures again.

Booker connected on another 3-pointer to make it a 13-point lead, but the Bucks wouldn’t go away. Jrue Holiday and Antetokounmpo did all the scoring in a 7-0 burst that got Milwaukee back within 103-97 with 5:15 to go, but this time it was Paul who hit the rally-killing hoop, a 3-pointer that pushed the advantage back to nine.

The Bucks, who also fell behind the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 on the road before winning the Eastern Conference semifinal series in seven games, never got closer than eight in the final four minutes.

Booker’s 31 points came on 12-for-25 shooting overall and 7-for-12 from 3-point range.

With Paul, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder hitting three 3-pointers apiece, the Suns went 20-for-40 from beyond the arc, outscoring the Bucks 60-27 from deep.

Bridges finished with 27 points and Paul 23 for the Suns, who overcame 18 Bucks offensive rebounds and 23-14 disparity in free-throw attempts to gain their third straight 2-0 advantage in the postseason.

Crowder (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Ayton (10 points, 11 rebounds) made it five Suns starters with double-figure points.

Antetokounmpo, who also found time for a game-high 12 rebounds, scored 20 of his 42 points in the third quarter and 30 in the second half. It wasn’t enough for a team that was outshot 48.9 percent to 45.2 percent from the field.

The 42 points were one more than his previous postseason-high, which he set in the first round in 2019 at Detroit.

Holiday totaled 17 points, Pat Connaughton 14 and Khris Middleton 11 for the Bucks, who have gone 7-1 at home in the postseason.

Seeking to avoid the type of start that saw them never hold a lead over the final 40 minutes of Game 1, the Bucks led by as many as nine in the first half Thursday before eventually getting buried in a barrage of Suns 3-pointers.

Phoenix had 11 in the first half — matching its number of 2-pointers. Crowder and Bridges each hit a trey a 15-4 run over the final 4:39 of the second quarter that turned a 41-all tie into a 56-45 advantage.

–Field Level Media

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