- Bucks win 123-112 in Game 5 to move one win from NBA finals
- Brook Lopezs 33 lead Milwaukee in Antetokounmpos absence
Brook Lopez scored a playoff career-high 33 points and the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpos absence to beat the Atlanta Hawks 123-112 on Thursday night for a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bucks are one win away from reaching the NBA finals for the first time since 1974. They won their lone NBA title in 1971.
Four of their starters had at least 22 points: Lopez, Khris Middleton (26), Jrue Holiday (25) and Bobby Portis (22). Middleton also had 13 rebounds and eight assists. Holiday had 13 assists and six rebounds.
Chris Pauls 41 lift Phoenix Suns past LA Clippers into first NBA finals since 1993
Game 6 is Saturday in Atlanta, with the winner of the series facing the Phoenix Suns in the NBA finals.
Each team was missing its biggest star as Antetokounmpo dealt with a hyperextended left knee and Atlantas Trae Young sat out a second straight game due to a bone bruise in his right foot.
Young got hurt when he accidentally stepped on an officials foot along the sideline in Milwaukees 113-102 Game 3 victory. Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly after trying to block Clint Capelas dunk attempt in Atlantas 110-88 Game 4 triumph.
Just as the Hawks role players stepped up with Young sidelined in Game 4, Antetokounmpos teammates came through Thursday to help the Bucks overcome the loss of their two-time MVP.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Hawks with 28 points. Atlanta also got 19 points each from John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, and 17 from Lou Williams.
Portis took Antetokounmpos spot in the starting lineup and had the Fiserv Forum fans chanting Bobby! Bobby! on multiple occasions, continuing something that started during Milwaukees Game 2 blowout victory. Portis 22 points were a playoff career high.
The Bucks never trailed and led by as many as 20 in the first quarter, making most of their shots and getting second-chance opportunities on their rare misses. The game was nearly eight minutes old by the time Cam Reddish got Atlantas first defensive rebound.
Milwaukee led 36-22 after a first quarter in which the Bucks outscored the Hawks 28-8 in the paint. Bogdanovics 13 first-half points helped the Hawks close the gap to 65-56 at the break.
The Bucks needed that edge in the paint because they again couldnt connect from range, continuing a problem that has hounded them the entire postseason. After making their first two three-point shots, they missed their next 12 attempts from beyond the arc.
Atlanta cut the lead to 65-59 when Bogdanovic hit a three-pointer to open the third-quarter scoring, but thats as close as the Hawks would get in the second half.
This marked the second straight game in this series without any lead changes. The Hawks never trailed in Game 4.
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