Sports

NBA playoffs: Celtics, Bucks and Rockets take 2-0 leads

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond.
(Aaron Gash / Associated Press)

Giannis 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.

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

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.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Detroit.

After scoring 10 points and playing only 14 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, Antetokounmpo scored Milwaukee’s first seven points in the third quarter. The Bucks outscored Detroit 35-17 in the period to take a 93-76 lead into the fourth.

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 competed the three-point play it make it 105-87.

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.

at Celtics 99, Pacers 91: Kyrie Irving scored 37 points and the Boston Celtics rallied late in the fourth quarter to beat the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven, first-round series

Coming out of a timeout and with a chance to tie, the Pacers’ Wesley Matthews threw an inbounds pass into the bench on the other side of the court with 12.1 seconds left. On the ensuing play, the Celtics’ Al Horford passed to Jayson Tatum, who was fouled on a two-handed dunk. He completed the three-point play to make it 97-91 with 8.8 seconds left.

The Pacers turned it over again and the Celtics were able to close out the game at the free throw line.

Tatum scored 26 points, including a thunderous dunk down the stretch to help punctuate a 10-0 run by Boston over the final five minutes.

After scoring only eight points in the third quarter of Game 1, the Pacers scored only 12 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 23 points. Thaddeus Young added 15 points.

Game 3 is Friday in Indiana.

Darren Collison scored seven points during a 10-0 run that gave the Pacers a 70-58 lead in the third quarter as turnovers began to pile up for the Celtics.

at Rockets 118, Jazz 98: James Harden put on an MVP performance with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a second straight rout of the Utah Jazz, 118-98, on Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Harden, who recorded his third career playoff triple-double, had 25 points by halftime in a game the Jazz were all but out of after the first two quarters.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Utah.

It’s the second straight season in which Houston has met Utah in the postseason, after facing the Jazz in the second round last year. The Rockets also won Game 1 of that series easily before losing the second game at home. They ended up winning the series in five games but talked about the importance of maintaining focus after their 32-point win in Game 1 this season to avoid another such letdown.