Khris Middleton scores 44 points, the Bucks rally to beat the Suns

MILWAUKEE – Khris Middleton scored 44 points, the highest of the season, Jrue Holiday had 17 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back on Sunday to beat the elusive Phoenix Suns 132-122.

Milwaukee beat Phoenix 12-1 in the final three minutes to win the Suns’ first visit since Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in the 105-98 victory in Game 6 gave the Bucks their first NBA title in 50 years. In their only previous bout this season, the Suns won 131-107 in Phoenix on Feb. 10.

The Suns, NBA leaders, played without their usual All-Star on the starting backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Booker lost his third straight game due to NBA safety and health protocols. Paul broke his right thumb on February 16th.

Phoenix also missed Cam Johnson, two days after he scored 38 points in a 115-114 victory over the New York Knicks. Johnson has a bruise on his right quadriceps.

The Bucks won their fourth straight game by possibly completing their toughest three-game stretch of the season. In each of these three games, they came from behind in the stretch.


Milwaukee beat Miami 120-119 on Wednesday night and Chicago 118-112 on Friday night. The Bucks cleared a 14-point lead in the final six minutes of the Heat game and trailed the Bulls by seven points early in the fourth quarter.

This time, the Bucks were behind five in the last period and endured the foul problems of Antetokounmpo, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes before committing a foul of 1:12 ahead.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns by 30 points. Cam Payne was 23, Jae Crowder 19, Landry Shamet 17 and Mikal Bridgesh 14.

Serge Ibaka had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks. Jordan Nwora had 12 points and Grayson Allen added 10.

The Suns led 107-102 when Antetokounmpo went to the bench after picking up his fifth foul with 7:40 left.

But the Bucks outscored the Suns 18-11 in the more than four minutes Antetokounmpo failed and had a 120-118 lead when the double MVP returned to the ground with 3:23 to go.


Crowder sank a triple to put the Suns ahead again with a lack of 3:13. Nwora missed a 3-point attempt in the Bucks’ next possession, but Antetokounmpo got the rebound and passed to Nwora, who hit a jumper to put Milwaukee ahead again with 2:52 left to the end.

The Bucks rolled from there. Middleton scored the last seven points of the game, including a triple that gave the Bucks a two-digit lead with 21.6 seconds left.


Suns: Phoenix coach Monty Williams has said on several occasions that defeating the Bucks in the finals would improve his team. Williams said on Sunday that he mentioned this again to Antetokounmpo during the All-Star Game festivities. “In any sport, when you lose like that, you have to be honest with yourself to know why,” Williams said. “If you were a boxer and a right cross was cut off, you know what I’m saying, you’ll keep the left. You will learn to increase your endurance to keep your left upright. Those are the things that, every time you fail on that particular platform, you just look at things that can make you better. “


Bucks: Wesley Matthews didn’t play due to left hamstring pain. Matthews injured his hamstrings on Friday in Chicago. “We’re thinking and hoping it’s day to day,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. … Serge Ibaka had his highest total points and rebounds since the Bucks acquired him on Feb. 10. This was his ninth game with the Bucks.


Suns: In Orlando on Tuesday night in the second of three straight games as a road. The Suns beat the Magic 132-105 at home on February 12th.

Bucks: In Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. The Bucks defeated the Thunder 96-89 in Milwaukee on November 19.


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Khris Middleton scores 44 points, the Bucks rally to beat the Suns

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