June 26, 2022 11:29 am

Hot-shooting Suns beat Bucks at home again for 2-0 lead in NBA Finals

 A Phoenix Suns possession late in the first half included 12 passes. All five players touched the ball at least once, making the Milwaukee Bucks scramble on defense.

The Bucks actually played solid defense, closing out to stop 3-point attempts and deflecting a pass. But in the end, that ball movement ended with a Deandre Ayton and-1 and an 11-point Suns lead headed into halftime.

And that encapsulated Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Phoenix defeated Milwaukee 118-108 on Thursday, taking a 2-0 series lead.

The Suns had answers at every turn.

With the Bucks cutting a double-digit deficit to five in the fourth quarter, Ayton’s layup and Devin Booker’s 3 pushed the margin back to 10. Sneakers2090 ,After two offensive rebounds, Chris Paul made a 3, pushing Phoenix’s lead to 106-97 right after the Bucks had a chance to make it a three-point game.

Booker had 31 points, six assists and five rebounds and Paul had 23 points and eight assists as the Suns’ guards once again outplayed the Bucks’ backcourt.

Game 3 is Sunday in Milwaukee (8 p.m., ABC).

Here are four key takeaways from Game 2:

3-ball for the Suns

Phoenix shot 8-of-14 on 3-pointers in the first quarter, scoring 24 of their 26 points from deep. Booker, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder each had two, and Cam Johnson and Torrey Craig each had one.

The Suns missed their first four 3-point attempts in the second quarter but had 11 3s at halftime, 16 at the end of the third quarter and 20 by game’s end. They outscored Bucks 60-27 from deep. The Bucks limited center Ayton in the paint, but the tradeoff allowed too many 3s.

Bridges (27 points) and Crowder (11 points) each made three 3s, and Johnson and Craig finished with two each.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points in their Game 2 win.

Another big game from Antetokounmpo

In his second game after missing the last two games of the Eastern Conference finals with a hyperextended left knee, Bucks All-NBA forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was better in Game 2 than he was in Game 1 — just as Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer expected.

He had 42 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal. But he just didn’t have enough offensive help. Antetokounmpo was 15-for-22 from the field, and the rest of the Bucks were 27-of-71 — 38% from the field and 30.8% from 3-point range.

Antetokounmpo carried the Bucks, scoring 20 points in the third quarter, and the Bucks still trailed 88-78.

Big-time Booker

Booker started slow, making just three of his first 10 shots — but the ones that went in were 3s. Booker finished with seven 3-pointers and carried the Suns offensively. Back-to-back Booker 3s gave Phoenix a 101-88 lead with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Struggles continue for Holiday, Middleton

The point guard matchup figured to play a significant role in this series. It’s one-sided in the Suns’ favor, with Paul running the offense and Jrue Holiday unable to generate offense. After shooting 4-for-14 in Game 1, Holiday was 7-for-21 in Game 2.

Middleton scored 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting — 12 points below his playoff average. When Middleton and Holiday shoot a combined 12-for-37 from the field, Milwaukee will have a difficult time winning.

It seemed like a struggle for the Bucks all game, and yet Antetokounmpo made it 103-97, and Pat Connaughton missed a 3-pointer that would’ve made it 103-100.

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