ATLANTA — Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan wasn’t worried about Trae Young following Young’s Game 2 dud.
“Trae is going to be fine,” McMillan said about 100 minutes before Game 3 on Sunday.
Actually, Young was more than fine.
Until he wasn’t.
Through nearly three quarters, Young had 32 points, but after he turned the ball over with 36 seconds left in the third quarter, he turned his ankle while stepping on referee Sean Wright’s foot. Young checked out of the game, headed to the locker room and returned to the bench early in the fourth quarter.
Young checked back in with 8:44 left in the game, and even though he made a 3-pointer, he wasn’t 100% with Lou Williams handling some of the point guard duties.
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton took over in the fourth quarter.
He scored 20 of his playoff career-high 38 points in the fourth as the Bucks defeated the Hawks 113-102 in Game 3. Middleton scored 11 points during a two-minute stretch in which Milwaukee erased a seven-point deficit and took a 101-98 lead.
Middleton also had 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds, Bobby Portis added 15 points off the bench and while Jrue Holiday was just 2-for-11 from the field, he had 12 assists.
The Bucks lead the Eastern Conference finals 2-1, and Game 4 is Tuesday in Atlanta (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
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Khris Middleton (22) and Jrue Holiday celebrate the Bucks' Game 3 win over the Hawks. (Photo: Todd Kirkland, Getty Images)
After the drubbing the Hawks took in Game 2, they rebounded with a strong performance. It was Atlanta’s turn to make adjustments, and it played with a better speed and took care of the basketball much better than it did in Milwaukee.
Playing in an Eastern Conference finals home game for the first time since 2015, the Hawks fed off the crowd energy early. The Bucks were sloppy with three turnovers on their first four possessions, and after a Kevin Huerter 3-pointer, a 36-foot Young 3-pointer, a Young floater and John Collins 3, the Hawks led 15-2.
Young started much better than his Game 2 dud, which McMillan expected. Young’s 3 later in the first quarter put Atlanta ahead 25-10.
However, the Bucks cut the deficit to five by the end of the quarter, Antetokounmpo became more aggressive with 11 points in the second quarter, and it was tied at 56-all
Then, in the fourth, the Bucks played with greater sense of what was at stake. Milwaukee outscored the Hawks 30-17 in the final 12 minutes.
Young ended with 35 points, and Danilo Gallinari had 18 points off the bench.
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