LOS ANGELES: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 25 points and Jrue Holiday delivered 22 as the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks crushed the Atlanta Hawks 125-91 to level their Eastern Conference final series at 1-1. Milwaukee used a 20-0 run in the second quarter to seize command on Friday, outscoring the fifth-seeded Hawks 43-17 in the quarter to grab a 77-45 halftime lead in front of a crowd of 16,400 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. “We just needed to do more things better in this game. The effort was great,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “The guys were committed and now we got to go do it again.”
Two-time league MVP Antetokounmpo made 11 of 18 shots from the field and Holiday went nine-of-14 for the Bucks, who shot 52 percent overall. Both Antetokounmpo and Holiday rested in the fourth quarter. Game three is tonight in Atlanta. “We came in focused on each possession at a time in game two, and we were able to do it together as a team,” Antetokounmpo said. Brook Lopez scored 16 points and Khris Middleton added 15 points and eight assists in the win. “We wanted to set the tone,” said Middleton. “We wanted to make sure they weren’t comfortable and have the aggression that we didn’t have in game one.”
The Bucks took advantage of 20 turnovers by Atlanta, including nine by Trae Young. The Hawks’ rising star finished with a team-high 15 points on six-of-16 shooting from the floor. “I take responsibility for what happened tonight. Taking care of the ball is something I got to be better at,” said Young. Young left the game for good with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.
He shot six of 16 overall, and one of eight on three-point attempts. “Last game he was living in the paint, had a lot of floaters (and) those are pretty much layups for him,” Holiday said. “We didn’t really want that to get him started early. And I don’t think he went to the free-throw line much tonight, which is also pretty big for us.”
Danilo Gallinari came off the bench to score 12 points, and John Collins and Cam Reddish scored 11 points apiece for the Hawks, who are now 6-3 on the road in the postseason. “There’s another level we have to get to in order to win games and advance,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan. “That intensity they came out with wasn’t a surprise to us. They just totally dominated the entire game.” The Bucks extended their lead to a game-high 41 points, 105-64, when Jordan Nwora made a layup early in the fourth quarter.
Mavs hire Kidd
Jason Kidd, who won an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks as a player in 2011, has agreed to a deal to coach the club, according to multiple media reports on Friday. The Mavericks also hired long-time Nike executive Nico Harrison as general manager, according to The Athletic, ESPN, USA Today and other media, citing unnamed sources. Kidd, who played on US Olympic gold medal squads in 2000 at Sydney and 2008 at Beijing, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, helping them to an NBA title in that role last year.
The Hall of Fame point guard, taken second overall by Dallas in the 2004 NBA Draft, was a 10-time NBA All-Star in his 19 league seasons with the Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks. Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.9 steals a game over 1,391 league contests and ranks second on the NBA all-time assists list with 12,091.
Harrison, who spent two decades with Nike, reportedly has a strong relationship with Dallas star Luka Doncic, a two-time NBA All-Star guard from Slovenia. The moves would give the Mavericks new leadership in key roles, replacing coach Rick Carlisle, who departed as coach last week and signed this week with Indiana, and Donnie Nelson. The Mavericks also recently hired former Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki as an advisor to owner Mark Cuban.
Kidd, 48, retired in June 2013 and within days was named coach of the Brooklyn Nets, but he only spent one season guiding the club, reportedly departing for Milwaukee after a failed bid to direct all Nets basketball operations as well as coach. Kidd went 139-152 in just over three seasons with the Bucks before being fired in the 2017-18 campaign after a 23-22 start. Milwaukee lost twice in the first round of the playoffs in his tenure, but oversaw the development of Antetokounmpo in his first three seasons in the NBA. – AFP