Chris Paul leads Phoenix Suns to win over Milwaukee Bucks in NBA Finals opener
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Chris Paul scored 32 points and Deandre Ayton grabbed 19 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 118-105 in Game One of the NBA Finals on Tuesday.
The Suns got contributions up and down the lineup, with six players scoring in double figures, and made 25 of their 26 free-throw attempts while the Bucks connected on just nine of 16.
"I kept trying to stay aggressive," said Paul, 36, who is in his 16th NBA season and making his Finals debut.
"All the coaches have said we've got to play with pace. I'm the old head who sometimes likes to slow it down but in this series, we've got to play with pace."
The point guard also dished out nine assists, collected four rebounds and made four of his seven three-point attempts.
"This is the guy I looked up to as a kid, knowing he was going to be a Hall of Famer," Suns' Mikal Bridges said of Paul. "He deserves a ring and I'm in a position to help him get it."
Bucks' forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was playing in his first game since hyperextending his left knee in the previous series, did not appear to be suffering any lingering issues from the injury, playing excellent defence and grabbing 17 rebounds.
However, the Suns' stood tall to limit the two-time league MVP to 20 points in his 35 minutes of action.
Antetokounmpo felt "great" after the game and said he thought his season had been ended by the injury.
Khris Middleton led the way with 29 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Bucks, who were sharp from distance, making 16 of 36 three-pointers.
Devin Booker notched 16 points to help the Suns to a 57-49 lead at the half, and while an Antetokounmpo layup shaved the Suns' lead to seven in the fourth quarter they were unable to close the gap further.
Suns backup center Dario Saric left the game after suffering a right knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.
The Suns have never won a championship and last appeared in the Finals in 1993. The Bucks' last Finals appearance came in 1974 and the franchise's lone championship came in 1971.
Game Two of the best-of-seven series is on Thursday, again in Phoenix.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford )