Bucks win NBA championship
Giannis Antetokounmpo starred with 50 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971, defeating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 in game six of the NBA Finals.
Exactly three weeks after suffering a knee injury that appeared to put his future in doubt, Antetokounmpo delivered perhaps the best performance of his career at the best possible moment and now can add an NBA Finals MVP award to his two regular-season MVP trophies.
Antetokounmpo was also crowned NBA Finals MVP, having had at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in three of the six games in the series.
He starred while carrying a hyperextended left knee that prevented him from playing the final two matches of the NBA conference finals against Atlanta Hawks.
Antetokounmpo played major roles in the two signature plays of the series.
First he blocked Deandre Ayton’s dunk attempt to prevent Phoenix from tying Game 4 with just over a minute left. And after Jrue Holiday made a steal with the Bucks protecting a one-point lead in the final minute of Game 5, Antetokounmpo raced down the court and was on the receiving end of Holiday’s alley-oop that helped clinch the game.
He saved his finest outing for the championship clincher. Antetokounmpo became the first player to collect at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in any playoff game since Shaquille O'Neal in 2001.
Antetokounmpo scored 20 points in the third quarter alone to help Milwaukee rally from a 47-42 half-time deficit, though the game was still tied 77-all heading into the final quarter.
Fittingly, it was a stretch of six straight Antetokounmpo points midway through the fourth quarter on a layup and four straight free throws -- that pushed Milwaukee out to a six-point lead that the Bucks would never give up, setting off a celebration a half-century in the making.
The Suns were gallant in defeat, Chris Paul (26 points) and Devin Booker (19 points) not quite able to lift their side to force a game seven decider.
It was the Bucks night, as they held up the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship trophy as champions.
IMAGE: New York Times.