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Coming off a loss and with one of their best players sidelined, the Milwaukee Bucks delivered exactly the kind of performance they needed.
The defending NBA champions took a big lead, making quick work of the Chicago Bulls.
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Grayson Allen scored five 3-pointers and scored 22, and Milwaukee outscored Chicago 111-81 on Friday night to take a 2-1 first-round playoff lead without an injured Khris Middleton.
Giannis Antetokounmpo added 18 points. Bobby Portis started with Middleton and finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds despite pain in his right eye from a hit in Game 2. And the Bucks made it easy, handing the Bulls the playoff loss most lopsided home game in franchise history.
After two shaky performances in Milwaukee, the Bucks calmed down a raucous crowd as they watched Chicago’s first playoff game at the United Center in five years. They led by 24 points in the second quarter and stayed in control until the end.
Middleton is expected to miss the remainder of the series after spraining his left knee Wednesday night in a loss. Game 4 will take place on Sunday in Chicago. Without him, Allen said his own mindset didn’t necessarily change, even if the pace was different.
“Maybe I was a little quicker to shoot some of those catch-and-take shots I got,” said Allen, who hit three consecutive 3-pointers shortly after entering the game. the game in the first quarter. “But I think it was just being in different places. Some of those places where Khris is usually on offense – high key, playing post-ups, isolations. I was there and I got the ball swinging, and they crashed hard on Giannis and Jrue (Holiday) throughout the game I was able to take advantage of that.
Antetokounmpo scored all but two of his points after the first quarter. The two-time MVP finished with nine assists and seven rebounds.
Holiday added 16 points to help the Bucks beat the Bulls for the 18th time in 20 games.
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Nikola Vucevic led Chicago with 19 points. Zach LaVine had 15 and DeMar DeRozan finished with just 11 with the Bucks pressing him after setting a playoff career high with 41 in Game 2.
“We didn’t have the same competitiveness that we had the first two games we had in Milwaukee,” LaVine said. “We took a punch in the first game. When we lost 0-9, we responded right away. We didn’t respond in the right way (Friday). We have to watch the movie and understand how we can do a better job of matching strength to strength.”
Milwaukee did it early on, racing to a 60-41 halftime lead even with Middleton sidelined.
Allen helped crush the “Let’s go Bulls!” chants, nailing four 3s and scoring 14 in the half. That must have made it even harder for fans still upset over his serious foul that resulted in a broken wrist for Alex Caruso during a game in Milwaukee in January. They showered him with boos but couldn’t unsettle him.
Antetokounmpo started a 13-0 run early in the second quarter with a 19-footer and a dunk. And Allen finished it with a driving layup that extended the lead to 46-22.
Bucks: Milwaukee’s biggest playoff win was 50 at home against San Francisco in 1971. And the Bucks’ widest margin on the road was 36 at Philadelphia in 1970. … Portis wore goggles after missing most of match 2 with an abrasion right eye. He took a punch to the face of Chicago’s Tristan Thompson late in the first quarter on Wednesday as both players looked for a rebound. … G George Hill (abdominal strain) missed his fourth straight game. And coach Mike Budenholzer said he doesn’t look like he’ll be back. … Milwaukee have won 12 of 13 wins at the United Center since the 2016-17 season
Bulls: Chicago’s most lopsided loss in the playoffs was 115-78 at Miami in Game 2 of the 2013 conference semifinals. … The Bulls haven’t won a playoff game at home since They beat Cleveland in Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Chicago lost that series in six games. … Assistant coaches Chris Fleming and Damian Cotter were back with the team after missing the first two games due to COVID-19. Assistant Maurice Cheeks, however, was out with a non-COVID illness, coach Billy Donovan said.