FLORIDA — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points and Khris Middleton added 18 of his 21 in the fourth quarter as the Milwaukee Bucks dominated late to down the Orlando Magic 121-106 in the NBA playoffs on Monday.
The Bucks, owners of the best record in the regular season, took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series, with game five on Wednesday in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
In another East contest, Goran Dragic scored 23 points and the fifth-seeded Miami Heat completed a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers with a 99-87 win.
The underdog Magic, who stunned the Bucks in game one, kept it close through three quarters.
But Milwaukee, up 84-81 heading into the final frame, erupted for an 18-3 scoring run to seize control.
Orlando responded with a run of their own to trim the deficit to seven points with 4:02 remaining, but could get no closer.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo added 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who are trying to win their first NBA title since 1971.
Wesley Matthews scored 12 points and Brook Lopez 10 for Milwaukee.
Middleton, who averaged just 11 points per game in the first three playoff games on 12-of-37 shooting, said Antetokounmpo told him to “shoot until your arms fall off”.
“At times I am too unselfish, so I have to force the issue,” Middleton said. “Giannis told just to me be aggressive and that is what I tried to do.”
The Magic, still without key contributors Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, were led by 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from Nikola Vucevic.
Markelle Fultz added 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Magic who made 18 three-pointers.
“To start the fourth we went through a dry spell offensively and we didn’t execute well,” Vucevic said. “It’s tough when you play well for three quarters. You have to be able to execute and make shots and we didn’t.”
Tyler Herro tallied 16 points and Bam Adebayo had 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat, who reached the second round for the first time in four years.
Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Myles Turner finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who have dropped four consecutive playoff series to Miami since 2012.
Miami’s reserves outscored Indiana’s depleted bench 38-3.
In the West, Oklahoma City erased a 15-point deficit to record their second straight win with a 117-114 victory over the Houston Rockets. The series is tied 2-2. — AFP
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