Trae Young stepped on a referee.
Khris Middleton stepped up.
With Young hobbled by a freak ankle injury, Middleton singlehandedly outscored the Hawks 20-17 in the fourth quarter to lead the Bucks to a 113-102 win in Game 3 Sunday. Milwaukee now leads the Eastern Conference finals 2-1.
Young had already scored 32 points and led Atlanta to a three-point lead when he got hurt late in the third quarter. Turning to get back on defense, Young stepped on the foot of a referee who was standing behind him out of bounds. Young immediately went down in pain then left for the locker room.
He returned in the fourth quarter but looked off, scoring just three points on 1-of-4 shooting.
“It’s sore right now,” Young said. “It’s hurting. It’s frustrating.”
Young’s status for Game 4 Tuesday is uncertain.
Young has proven his mettle this postseason. He did well to keep the Hawks close with both Middleton (38 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) playing well.
But Atlanta couldn’t overcome Young’s setback.
Bobby Portis (15 points) provided a big spark off the bench for the Bucks.
The Hawks also played John Collins (13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and eight rebounds) just 23 minutes due to foul trouble. He did not foul out. That was a self-induced error for a team that lacked margin for it.