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Bucks edge Suns in Game 5 of NBA Finals, take 3-2 series lead

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) on an alley-oop late in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of 2021 NBA Finals on Saturday at Footprint Center in Arizona. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) on an alley-oop late in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of 2021 NBA Finals on Saturday at Footprint Center in Arizona. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

July 17 (UPI) -- The Milwaukee Bucks overcame a sluggish start and staved off a late comeback attempt by the Phoenix Suns for a 123-119 win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night at the newly named Footprint Center in Arizona.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the victory, as Milwaukee -- once down 2-0 in the championship series -- won its third straight game to grab a 3-2 lead in the Finals.

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Game 6 is scheduled for Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The Bucks, attempting to win their first title since 1971, have a 9-1 record at home in this year's playoffs.

"One more to go. One more to go," Antetokounmpo said. "We've got to keep playing good basketball."

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The Bucks battled their way out of an early 16-point deficit by outscoring the Suns 43-24 in the second quarter, taking a 64-61 lead into halftime.

Milwaukee, which shot 57.5% from the field, used its efficient shooting to build a 10-point lead entering the final quarter. The Bucks grabbed their biggest lead of the night when Jrue Holiday's 9-foot jumper made it 108-94 with 9:08 left in the fourth.

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The Suns slowly chipped away and eventually cut their deficit to 120-117 after Devin Booker drained a fadeaway 3-pointer with 1:24 to go. Suns guard Chris Paul then made a driving layup to make it a one-point game with less than a minute left.

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After a missed shot by Holiday on the next possession, the Suns had a chance to take the lead with under 30 seconds remaining. With time winding down, Booker drove to the hoop but lost the ball when Holiday ripped it out of his hands.

Holiday then found a trailing Antetokounmpo, who threw down an alley-oop dunk to give Milwaukee a 122-119 advantage. Antetokounmpo was fouled on the play and missed the ensuing free throw, but the Bucks managed to grab the offensive rebound.

Khris Middleton was quickly fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Bucks a four-point cushion with 9.8 seconds to go, and the Suns were unable to get any closer.

Middleton finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Holiday, who struggled in Game 4, found his form with 27 points and 13 assists in Saturday's win.

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Booker dropped 40 points on 17 of 33 shooting for the Suns, who are trying to win their first NBA championship in franchise history. Paul had 21 points and 11 assists, while Deandre Ayton notched 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bucks became the first road team to win in the best-of-seven series. With one more victory, Milwaukee can complete its second 2-0 comeback in the 2021 postseason and the fifth in NBA Finals history.

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