Atlanta’s Trae Young, right, and Clint Capela celebrate after their Game 1 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night. Morry Gash/Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Trae Young scored 48 points, Clint Capela converted a go-ahead putback with 29.8 seconds left and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-113 on Wednesday night to open the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks improved to 6-2 in road playoff games this year and handed the Bucks their first home loss of the postseason.

Game 2 is Friday night in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Bucks. Jrue Holiday added 33 points and 10 assists.

Young was two points off his career high.

Khris Middleton missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Although Middleton scored 15 points, he shot 6 of 23 and missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.


Antetokounmpo scored the first six points in a 9-0 run that turned a 98-96 deficit into a 105-98 advantage with 4:18 left. Holiday capped that spurt by sinking a 3-pointer after Antetokounmpo got the rebound on his own missed free throw.

But the Hawks scored the next five points, and the game went back and forth from there.

Middleton missed a pull-up jumper with 43 seconds left with Milwaukee up 111-110. Young missed a driving layup attempt, but Capela grabbed his 19th rebound and scored to put the Hawks ahead for good.

After Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton shot an air-ball on a 3-pointer, Young made two free throws with 17.3 seconds remaining. Antetokounmpo made a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds left, but Young brought the lead back to three and closed the scoring by sinking two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining.


WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: When Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton reached over the rim to dunk Jae Crowder’s pass for what became the winning points of the Suns’ 104-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, several players immediately argued that the play was illegal.


Perhaps it was wishful thinking on their part. Or, perhaps more likely, they did not fully understand the rule. In almost any other situation, what Ayton did would have been a violation – offensive basket interference – and the shot shouldn’t have counted. But in this situation, what he did was perfectly legal.

The Suns were down one with 0.9 seconds left when Crowder lofted a high pass on an out-of-bounds play on the baseline. A soaring Ayton came down the lane and stuffed it through the net over L.A.’s Ivica Zubac as the crowd roared in disbelief.

“The celebration and reaction were a little shaky,” Ayton said. “Because I wasn’t sure what I did. I wasn’t sure if it counted.”

The referees spent about a minute reviewing the play before ruling the basket was good. The Clippers couldn’t get a shot off in the final 0.7 seconds.

According to NBA Rule 11, Section I, Subsection f, a player shall not “touch any ball from within the playing area that is on its downward flight with an opportunity to score. This is considered to be a ‘field goal attempt’ or trying for a goal.”

Crowder’s pass, however, was not a field-goal attempt, because it was an inbounds pass, so the goaltending rule doesn’t apply.


A similar play happened on Dec. 26, 2017, in a game between the Suns and Memphis Grizzlies, which was tied with 0.6 seconds remaining. Then-Suns Coach Jay Triano called for a play where Phoenix’s Dragan Bender would throw an inbounds pass over the rim and set up Tyson Chandler for a dunk.

Triano had asked the NBA long beforehand if such a scenario would be legal. The NBA confirmed that it would be, and Triano kept the idea stashed in his mind for such a moment. Bender’s pass was precise, Chandler got the dunk down and the Suns won, 99-97.

“It’s a rule a lot of people don’t know,” Triano said that night. “You cannot goaltend a ball that isn’t going to count.”

Chris Paul is listed as probable to play for the Phoenix Suns in Game 3.

The Suns lead the series 2-0. The series shifts to Staples Center on Thursday night.

Paul missed the first two games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols since June 16. His status was updated in the league’s injury report.


The 36-year-old point guard, a former Clipper, averaged 25.5 points, 10.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds in the second round against Denver.

The Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard. He has missed the series so far with a strained right knee.

LAKERS: Los Angeles guard Alex Caruso was arrested Tuesday in Texas on suspicion of marijuana possession. He was later released. According to jail records at the Brazos County Sherriff’s Office, Caruso was accused of possessing less than two ounces of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested by Texas A&M University Police in College Station and was booked Tuesday.

Both charges are misdemeanors in Texas. Caruso, who played at Texas A&M, was released after paying a bond and a fine.

The 27-year-old Caruso, a Lakers fan favorite, will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He averaged 6.4 points per game and 2.8 assists during the 2020-21 season. Caruso had a breakout season in 2019-20, when he played a pivotal role in the Lakers winning the NBA championship.

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