MILWAUKEE (AP) — Any way you pronounce his name, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a freak.

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 26: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks against the Houston Rockets during the first half of a game at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

Saddled with early foul trouble and faced with an aggressive defensive scheme that kept him in check for the first two quarters, Giannis Antetokounmpo set the tone immediately in the second half.

Antetokounmpo scored 13 of his 26 points in Milwaukee’s big third quarter and the Bucks beat the Detroit Pistons 120-99 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 14: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts after being fouled during Game One of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Detroit Pistons at Fiserv Forum on April 14, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

After scoring 10 points and playing only 14 minutes in the first half, Antetokounmpo scored Milwaukee’s first seven points in the third quarter.

“It is about will,” Antetokounmpo said. “I knew they were going to put guys in the paint, crowd me. I just tried to have patience.”

As the Bucks took the court after halftime, Eric Bledsoe had some words of advice for the team’s leader.

 

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 14: Eric Bledsoe #6 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket against Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Detroit Pistons during Game One of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs at Fiserv Forum on April 14, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

“Eric told me, ‘Be aggressive, it is going to come.’ That is what I tried to do,” Antetokounmpo said.

The Bucks outscored Detroit 35-17 in the period to take a 93-76 lead into the fourth.

 

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MARCH 09: Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks is seen looking on during the game between the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Georgetown Hoyas at Fiserv Forum on March 09, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

 

“I don’t think he felt great about how he played in the first half,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said about Antetokounmpo. “When he feels that way, he’s going to do something to change it.”

Bledsoe led the Bucks with 27 points, and Khris Middleton had 24. Milwaukee is trying to win a series for the first time since 2001.

“We knew they was going to come out with fight,” Bledsoe said. “We just had to match their intensity.”

 

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 17: Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons shoots a free throw during Game Two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on April 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

Luke Kennard had 19 points for Detroit. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond each added 18, and Drummond had 16 rebounds. Detroit star Blake Griffin sat out again with a left knee injury, but received a technical for the second straight game for arguing from the bench.

“For the most part, we came out and competed and we definitely made them feel us,” Jackson said.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Detroit.

Detroit clawed within seven in the fourth before the Bucks put it away, capped by a hard drive by Antetokounmpo on a break. He banked in an awkward reverse-angle shot while crashing to the floor after being fouled by Drummond. He completed the three-point play to make it 105-87.

 

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 14: Head coach Dwane Casey of the Detroit Pistons reacts to an official’s call during Game One of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on April 14, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

After falling behind early, Detroit battled back in the second quarter, finally taking a 57-56 lead on Jackson’s jumper with 28 seconds left. Bledsoe briefly put the Bucks back in front, but Jackson closed the half with a layup to give Detroit a 59-58 lead.

“I thought we set the tone in the second quarter,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “Our challenge has been extending hard play, not getting bored with fundamentals, not getting bored kicking the ball out, doing those things offensively.”

TIP-INS

Pistons: Griffin took part in light drills at the morning’s shootaround while wearing a heavy brace on his leg. … Thon Maker, acquired from Milwaukee near the trading deadline, started in Griffin’s place for the second straight game. … Detroit committed two turnovers in the first half.

Bucks: G Tony Snell, who continues to deal with a left ankle sprain, was inactive. Snell has been sidelined since rolling his ankle March 24 against Cleveland. Sterling Brown started at shooting guard in place of Snell. … Pau Gasol (left foot soreness) and Malcolm Brogdon (right foot plantar fascia) also remained out. … F Nikola Mirotic, who played 15 minutes and scored four points Sunday, had two points in 11 minutes in Game 2. Mirotic missed the last 11 games of the regular season after fracturing his left thumb March 19.

LONG DISTANCE

Antetokounmpo made a 3-pointer as part of his personal 7-0 run to start the third quarter.

“I have been working on it a lot,” he said. “It is a part of my game now. That one went in and we were able to make a run. I know they are going to give me those shots the whole game. I’ve just got to be able to be mentally prepared and get to my rhythm and take those shots.”

Detroit’s plan was to keep Antetokounmpo out of the paint and force him to shoot from deep. “That’s the shot right now in his career, you want him to shoot those threes. But the day is going to come when Antetokounmpo is going to make that shot consistently and we are all going to be in trouble.”

KENNARD GETS START

After Luke Kennard scored 21 points off the bench in Game 1, Casey inserted into the starting lineup.

 

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 17: Luke Kennard #5 of the Detroit Pistons shoots a free throw against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game Two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs at Fiserv Forum on April 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

“Starting or coming off the bench, either way is fine with me,” Kennard said. “We wanted to create a little bit more space on offense. I thought we did that and got some good looks.”

PACKERS SHOW SUPPORT

 

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 17: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Danica Patrick attend Game Two of the first round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons at Fiserv Forum on April 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and girlfriend Danica Patrick attended the game. Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, sporting a Bucks cap, guzzled can of Spotted Cow beer while being shown on the scoreboard.

BREWERS CHEERING SECTION

Several members of the Milwaukee Brewers also cheered on the Bucks, including reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich, pitchers Jhoulys Chacín and Jeremy Jeffress, manager Craig Counsell and president of baseball operations and general manager David Stearns.

 

© 2019 Detroit Lions. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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