Khris Middleton's big finish means these NBA Finals are just getting started.
Middleton scored 40 points, including 10 straight for the Milwaukee Bucks down the stretch to help them beat the Phoenix Suns 109-103 in Milwaukee on Wednesday night to tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Middleton's hot hand and a big block from Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks their second straight victory in the first close game of the series.
Antetokounmpo 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.
Devin Booker scored 42 points for the Suns, but his foul trouble cost them a chance to build a big lead in the second half. Fellow backcourt star Chris Paul struggled through a 5-for-13 night, finishing with 10 points and five turnovers.
"We wanted this bad and the team showed it tonight," Antetokounmpo said.
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."
Middleton is an All-Star with unwavering confidence in his shot, always believing that matter how poorly he starts that he can turn things around.
He may have turned around the course of these NBA Finals.
"We know he's going to take big shots, we know he's going to make big shots and tonight he was incredible," Antetokounmpo said.
Phoenix led by two with 2 1/2 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 centre 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.
Middleton missed a couple of jumpers 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.
Brook Lopez had 14 points for the Bucks and Jrue Holiday added 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He shot only 4 for 20, but his defence helped knock Paul off his game.
Before 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 him.
Australian Associated Press