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Giannis delivers triple double as NBA Bucks win

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo controls the ball during the NBA basketball match on January 24 last year. AFP

Giannis delivers triple double as NBA Bucks win

Giannis Antetokounmpo managed his first NBA playoff triple double May 29 and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated Miami 120-103 to sweep the Heat out of the post-season in the opening round.

Greek star Antetokounmpo had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists to spark the Bucks, who were led by 25 points from centre Brook Lopez and 22 more off the bench from Bryn Forbes.

Khris Middleton added 20 as the Bucks rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to win the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series 4-0. They await the Brooklyn-Boston series winner in the second round.

“We’ve got to focus on ourselves, try to get better,” Antetokounmpo said. “We want to get better defensively and whoever we get in the next round, we’re going to be ready.”

Antetokounmpo became only the third Bucks player with a playoff triple double after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970, when he was known as Lew Alcindor, and Paul Pressey in 1986.

The Heat, who lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in last year’s NBA Finals, ousted Milwaukee in five games in the second round of last season’s playoffs.

“We just tried to focus a game at a time,” Antetokounmpo said. “We didn’t want to play with our food.”

Miami had not been swept in a playoff series since falling to Chicago in the first round in 2007.

The Heat dominated early, with Antetokounmpo missing his first six shots and Miami grabbing its biggest lead of the series at 58-46.

But Milwaukee opened the third quarter on a 24-6 run and the Heat could never match them after that.

“They played us really tough,” said Antetokounmpo. “We kept our composure, we kept moving the ball, we kept defending and we were able to get a win.”

Bam Adebayo led Miami with 20 points and 14 rebounds while Jimmy Butler had a triple double in a losing cause with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Antetokounmpo said it was difficult to stay in a role and try to help his team through versatility instead of just pushing for a big scoring night.

“If you want to be great, it’s going to hurt a little bit. It’s not going to be easy,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m blessed I can do a lot of things to contribute to our team. I can score. I can pass the ball. I can rebound.”

It was the first game for the Bucks without guard Donte DiVincenzo, who was knocked out for the remainder of the playoffs by a torn left ankle ligament suffered in Milwaukee’s game three victory at Miami on May 27.

DiVincenzo averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals a game for the Bucks this season.

“He’s a big part of our game,” said Antetokounmpo. “It’s going to be tough not having him going forward but a lot of guys are going to step up for us.”

Portland routs Denver

Portland’s Norman Powell matched a career playoff high with 29 points, hitting 11-of-13 from the floor to power the Trail Blazers over visiting Denver 115-95 to level their Western Conference series at two wins each.

CJ McCollum scored 21 points and Bosnian centre Jusuf Nurkic added 17 for Portland while Serbian centre Nikola Jokic led Denver with 16 points.

“The plan was to put a complete 48-minute effort out there,” Powell said. “The focus was continue to compete hard.”

The Trail Blazers led 57-47 at half-time and dominated the third quarter to pull away for good.

Other playoff games later May 29 find Philadelphia trying to take a 3-0 series lead at Washington and Utah visiting Memphis with that series deadlocked 1-1.

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