Giannis Antetokounmpo kept attacking and the Boston Celtics kept fouling.
The fouls may have slowed the second half of Game 3, but nothing could stop Antetokounmpo from putting together a signature performance in Boston’s TD Garden.
Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 13 rebounds, George Hill finished with 21 points and the Bucks beat Boston 123-116 on Friday to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Khris Middleton scored 20 for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo had only 13 field-goal attempts but had 16 points from the free throw line in a game that featured 53 fouls — 39 in the second half. Including Milwaukee’s two regular-season games in Boston, Antetokounmpo has scored 30 or more points in each of his trips to TD Garden in 2018-19.
“I’m just gonna keep being aggressive. That’s what my teammates want me to do,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I have to take it all the way, I’ll take it all the way.”
Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and Jayson Tatum 20 for the Celtics, who host Game 4 on Monday.
Boston led by a point at the half but was outscored 40-31 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 17 in the final period.
The Celtics were also outscored 52-24 in the paint and had 18 turnovers leading to 28 Milwaukee points.
Irving acknowledged the fouls did slow down the game and stunt Boston’s efforts late.
“It’s getting ridiculous at this point,” Irving said, using an expletive to describe the lulls the fouls created.
The Bucks threw the Celtics a tactical curveball in Game 2, inserting Nikola Mirotic into the starting lineup in place of Sterling Brown.
In Game 3 it was Celtics coach Brad Stevens who brought new wrinkles, notably going with a small lineup that featured 6-foot-7 Semi Ojeleye guarding the 6-11 Antetokounmpo when he returned to the game at the start of the second quarter and again in the third quarter.
Briefly: The Suns tabbed Monty Williams to be their head coach, with the Athletic reporting that he has agreed to a five-year deal. He replaces Igor Kokoskov, who was fired last week after one season. Williams, 47, was 173-221 in five seasons as the head coach with New Orleans in 2010-2015. … The Bulls and coach Jim Boylen agreed to a contract extension. Terms were not revealed.
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