The Milwaukee Bucks overcame the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo and showed they are more than a one-man show by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 123-112 and take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference final.
Brook Lopez enjoyed a season-high 33 points, Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 13 assists and Khris Middleton finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Bucks, who are one win away from reaching the NBA finals for the first time since 1974.
Milwaukee won despite playing without two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo, who is out with a knee injury but watched the game from the sidelines.
“We came out tonight and just did our best to dominate at both ends of the floor,” said Lopez. “We did a great job of playing together. When everyone is scoring and everyone is doing their thing it is tough on their defence.”
Atlanta, missing their own key player in Trae Young due to a foot injury, went 30-10 behind early on and, despite reducing the deficit to 65-59, saw the Bucks pull away for victory.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 28 points for the Hawks, while John Collins and Danilo Gallinari added 19 points each.
“They were more physical. They hit us in the mouth and we just did not recover from that,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan.
The best-of-seven series now switches back to Atlanta for Game 6 on Saturday. The winner of the series will face the Phoenix Suns, who eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday to reach the finals for the first time in 28 years.