(AP) — Khris Middleton is an All-Star with unwavering confidence in
his shot, always believing that no matter how poorly he starts that
he can turn things around.
“Khris has no
fear and he never has,” Milwaukee guard Jrue Holiday said.
big shots — and throw in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s big block — may
have turned around the course of these NBA Finals.
scored 40 points, including 10 straight for the Bucks down the
stretch to send them past the Phoenix Suns, 109-103 on Wednesday
night to tie the series 2-2.
this bad and the team showed it tonight,” Antetokounmpo said.
hot hand and a big block from Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks
their second-straight victory in the first close game of the
had 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. His streak of
40-point games ended at two but the only number that matters for
the Bucks is on the series scoreboard.
scored 42 points for the Suns, but his foul trouble cost them a
chance to build a big lead in the second half. Chris Paul struggled
through a 5-for-13 night, finishing with 10 points and five
Game 5 is
Saturday night in Phoenix.
“This is a
tough one but we’ve got to bounce back,” Paul said. “That’s why we
fought all season to get home court.”
by two with two-and-a-half minutes left before Middleton made the
next two baskets to give Milwaukee a 101-99 edge with 1:28 to play.
It appeared the Suns would tie it with a lob pass to center Deandre
Ayton but Antetokounmpo swooped in to block it, flexing his muscles
to the crowd behind the basket as the Bucks broke the other way on
the fast break.
NBA Finals special moment right there, and we’re going to need more
of them,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
missed a couple of jumpersm but Paul lost the ball after the second
one when he slipped and fell down while dribbling. That sent
Middleton off for a layup and he followed with four free throws to
make it 107-101.
caved,” Middleton said. “We stayed with it.”
had 14 points for the Bucks and Holiday added 13 points, seven
rebounds and seven assists. He shot only 4 for 20, but his defense
helped knock Paul off his game.
Middleton’s run, it appeared it was going to be Booker’s night. He
bounced back in a big way from a 3-for-14 night in Game 3 with his
third 40-point game of this postseason.
But he had to
spend portions of the third and fourth quarters on the bench after
picking up fouls and his teammates couldn’t handle things without
leaders of their only title team in the arena, the Bucks improved
to 9-1 at home in the playoffs. They are trying to overcome a 2-0
deficit for the second time in this postseason.
never got more than two wins in their two previous trips to the NBA
Finals but it seemed they were finally headed there Wednesday.
Booker had a big finish to the third quarter to send them to the
fourth leading 82-76, but he picked up his fifth foul barely a
minute into the period and sat for about five minutes.
trimmed only three points off the lead before he returned midway
through the fourth, but Middleton made sure they surged ahead when
have that kind of lead in the fourth, if we can just hold on to the
ball and get good possessions, you feel like you can at least hold
it there,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
had dominated the previous game with his offense, but the 2020
Defensive Player of the Year made his biggest mark on this game on
the other end of the floor.
sensing the pressure, both teams fumbled the ball around in the
early going, diving on the floor in desperate attempts to save it.
The Bucks turned what looked like lost possessions into baskets
that way in the first quarter, giving them a boost while their
outside shooting was off.
who had a big second quarter in Game 3, had another nice stretch
midway through this one with an 8-0 run. That gave them a
four-point lead and the margin stayed right around there, with the
teams trading the lead, until Middleton’s 3-pointer made it 52-all
at the break.
has 542 points, most ever for a player in his first postseason.
Rick Barry scored 521 in 1967. ... Jae Crowder scored 15
Milwaukee shot just 7 for 29 (24%) from 3-point range. ... Pat
Connaughton had 11 points and nine rebounds.
OF THE BUCKS
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson sat next to each other and
were given a loud ovation when shown during the first
Bob Dandridge and Jon McGlocklin were the other members of the
Bucks’ only NBA championship team who were at the game. Marques
Johnson and Michael Redd were also in attendance.