Bucks beat Suns for tied streak in NBA Finals

Khris Middleton scored 40 points, including 10 in the crucial final minutes, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Phoenix 109-103 on Wednesday to tie in the NBA Finals.

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo added 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who rose to an NBA record 9-1 at home in the playoffs.

Milwaukee tied at 2-2 in the best-of-seven championship series with Game 5 on Saturday in Phoenix and Game 6 on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

“The only way for us to win this series is to have one on the road,” said Middleton. “It would be nice to have this next one.”

The Bucks seek their first crown since 1971 while the Suns seek the first title in the club’s 53-year history.

Phoenix’s Devin Booker, who comes off his worst 10-point playoff performance in a three-game losing streak, scored 42 points in a losing cause. The Suns made 17 five-way turnovers for the Bucks.

“He could have been aiming for over 50,” said Sun coach Monty Williams. “We managed well. Many of our problems were self-inflicted. As a team, we need to take better care of the ball. “

Jae Crowder made two free throws to put the Suns ahead, but Middleton responded with back-to-back jumpers to give the Bucks a 101-99 lead.

Phoenix’s Chris Paul made his fourth turnover of the game and Middleton finished a quick break with a layup to give the Bucks a 103-99 advantage with 27.2 seconds left.

Middleton added four late free throws to seal the triumph.

“We’ve stayed with it, doing what we’re doing,” Middleton said. “I hit hard against a tight defense.”

Antetokounmpo made key defensive plays late to disrupt the Suns and help spark a 15-0 advantage for the Bucks.

“Giannis, that’s what he’s been doing all year. He’s amazing, ”Middleton said. “He didn’t have the dominant performance, but he did with other things.”

Phoenix goalie Paul, a 16-year-old veteran in his first NBA Finals at 36, only managed 10 points on 5 of 13 shots.

Only Stephen Curry with 40 points had scored more in the first three quarters of a playoff game in the past 25 years than Booker’s 38.

But Booker made his fifth foul just 70 seconds into the fourth quarter and went to the bench with the Suns ahead 85-79.

With the Suns hanging on to a 95-92 lead, Jrue Holiday led for a breakaway and appeared to be fouled by Booker – which would have seen the Suns star come out of the game with six fouls.

Instead, the refs made no appeal and it took Antetokounmpo to catch the ball and make a layup to lift the Bucks into the 95-94 with 3:33 remaining.

Pat Connaughton of Milwaukee sank a 3-point pointer to give the Bucks the lead, but Booker responded with a jumper to tie the contest at 97-97 with 2:52 to go, setting the stage for the final drama.

Booker scored 20 in the first half to bring the Suns down to Bucks level at 52-52 at halftime, then added 18 in a 7-for-7 shooting performance in the third quarter despite his fourth foul.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, who started the Milwaukee Championship half a century ago, were among the more than 16,000 fans in attendance.

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