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Clutch Khris Middleton leads Bucks to Game 3 win vs. Hawks

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton totaled 38 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday in Atlanta. File Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI
Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton totaled 38 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday in Atlanta. File Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

June 28 (UPI) -- Khris Middleton scored 20 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks and a 2-1 edge in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals.

Middleton made 15 of 26 shots from the floor and 6 of 12 3-point attempts in the 113-102 victory Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo chipped in 23 points and 11 rebounds.

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Guard Trae Young scored 35 points in the loss, but contributed to a cold fourth quarter in which the Hawks made just 1 of 8 attempts from downtown.

"What I saw was unbelievable," Antetokounmpo told reporters, when asked about Middleton. "He was freaking unbelievable.

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"He carried the team at the end."

Young and the Hawks raced out to a 15-2 lead to start the game. The Bucks answered with late 9-2 run, but trailed 32-27 to start the second quarter. Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the frame and helped the Bucks tie the game 56-56 at halftime.

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The lead exchanged hands several times in the third quarter, but the Hawks led 85-83 to start the fourth. The Hawks carried that momentum into the final frame and led 95-88 with 7:32 remaining. Middleton then sparked a 15-3 run to give the Bucks a 103-98 edge with 4:27 remaining. The Bucks never lost that advantage.

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Middleton made 8 of 13 shots from the floor and 4 of 6 3-point attempts over the final 12 minutes. The Bucks outscored the Hawks 30-17 in the fourth.

Young injured his right ankle when he stepped on an official's foot in the third quarter and will get an MRI on Monday. He said the injury hindered his "blow-by speed" down the stretch.

Middleton collected 11 rebounds and seven assists, in addition to his playoff career-high point total. Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez chipped in 15 and 10 points, respectively, for the Bucks.

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Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points off the Hawks bench. Hawks forward John Collins scored 13 points with eight rebounds.

"We've got to do a better job of just being a little more physical with [Middleton] and making it tough," Young told reporters. "He's a good player, a guy that can really score and get going.

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"He just had one of those nights where he got going. We've definitely got to key in on him a little bit better and just be better for Game 4."

The Hawks host the Bucks in Game 4 at 8:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday at State Farm Arena. The winner of the series battles the Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Finals. The Suns hold a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

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