Khris Middleton scores 44 points, Bucks rally to beat Suns

Mar 6, 2022, 1:25 AM | Updated: 4:38 pm
Phoenix Suns' Mikal Bridges drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton during the second half of ...

Phoenix Suns' Mikal Bridges drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 132-122. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday made sure the Milwaukee Bucks withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s foul trouble and got through arguably the toughest three-game stretch of their schedule unscathed.

Middleton scored a season-high 44 points, Holiday had 24 and the Bucks rallied to beat the short-handed Phoenix Suns 132-122 on Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.

Holiday scored 17 points and Middleton had 16 in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks outscore the Suns 12-1 over the last three minutes. They’re the first Bucks teammates to each score at least 15 fourth-quarter points in the same game over the last 25 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We love being in those type of games,” Holiday said. “They’re a really good team. We kind of know what it takes, especially in moments like that, what it takes to win games.”

The Bucks won their fourth straight overall and third in the last five days. Milwaukee beat the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat 120-119 on Wednesday night and Chicago 118-112 on Friday night before knocking off the Suns, who own the NBA’s best record.

Milwaukee erased a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes of the Heat game and trailed the Bulls by seven points at the start of the fourth quarter.

“We’re just trying to lock in a little bit better,” Middleton said. “We’ve spoken on it multiple times in the past where we’ve had these lapses and what not. We’re trying to be dialed in, trying to be your best self for 48 minutes out there.”

This was the Suns’ first visit since Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in a 105-98 Game 6 victory gave the Bucks their first NBA title in 50 years. In their only previous matchup this season, the Suns won 131-107 in Phoenix on Feb. 10.

This time, Antetokounmpo had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes before fouling out with 1:12 left.

“That was a big statement game for us. … We really wanted to get that win,” said Phoenix’s Jae Crowder, who scored 19 points. “I’m really disappointed with how we finished the game.”

The Suns were playing without their usual All-Star starting backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Booker missed his third straight game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Paul broke his right thumb Feb. 16.

Phoenix also was missing Cam Johnson, two days after he scored 38 points and made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in a 115-114 victory over the New York Knicks. Johnson has a bruised right quadriceps.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 30 points. Cam Payne had 23, Landry Shamet 17 and Mikal Bridges 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 four-plus minutes Antetokounmpo missed and owned a 120-118 lead when the two-time MVP returned with 3:23 remaining. Holiday and Middleton combined for 16 of the Bucks’ 18 points during that stretch.

“They were both being aggressive,” said Antetokounmpo, who scored only one point in the fourth quarter. “They took over the fourth quarter offensively and defensively.”

Crowder sank a 3-pointer to put the Suns back ahead with 3:13 left. Nwora missed a 3-point attempt on the Bucks’ next possession, but Antetokounmpo got the rebound and passed to Nwora, who hit a jumper to put Milwaukee back in front for good with 2:52 remaining.

TIP-INS

Suns: The free-throw disparity killed the Suns’ chances. The Bucks went 23 of 29 and the Suns were 8 of 11 on free-throw attempts. … The Suns had won their last four regular-season matchups with the Bucks. … Payne’s 23 points were one off his career high.

Bucks: Wesley Matthews didn’t play due to a sore left hamstring. Matthews had hurt the hamstring Friday at Chicago. “We’re thinking and hoping it’s day to day,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. … Serge Ibaka had his highest point and rebound totals since the Bucks acquired him Feb. 10. This was his ninth game with the Bucks.

UP NEXT

Suns: At Orlando on Tuesday night in the second of three straight road games. The Suns beat the Magic 132-105 at home on Feb. 12.

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

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, number 8, attends a practice session at Hanbury Manor in ...
Associated Press

QB Jones set to start for Giants against Packers in London

WARE, England (AP) — Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is expected to start in New York’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after participating fully in practice on Friday. Jones sprained his left ankle last Sunday and was limited in midweek practices before the London trip but didn’t receive an injury status […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Lawyer charged in bottle throwing incident at Browns game

CLEVELAND (AP) — An attorney who was arrested for throwing a water bottle at Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam at the end of a home game last month has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct by intoxication. Jeffrey Miller, 51, of Rocky River, is scheduled to appear in Cleveland Municipal Court on Oct. 20. A […]
1 day ago
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers trains at The Grove in Chandler's Cross, England, Frida...
Associated Press

Rodgers eager to air it out in Packers’ 1st London game

WATFORD, England (AP) — Aaron Rodgers may need to have a little chat with Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur about the game plan for the Packers’ first game in London. After arriving in the British capital on an overnight flight, LaFleur was quick to tout the importance of the run game on Sunday against […]
1 day ago
FILE - Police officers and soldiers stand amid tear gas smoke after clashes between fans during a s...
Associated Press

Soccer’s worst disasters: Same mistakes by police, fans die

Police fire tear gas into a crowd of soccer fans, who panic and rush for the exits. There are so many trying to escape and some of the gates are locked. The stadium becomes a death trap. People are trampled in the desperation. Others suffocate, crushed by the weight of bodies around them. They are […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Iran forward Azmoun doubtful for World Cup with calf injury

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) — Iran forward Sardar Azmoun is a doubt for the World Cup after picking up an injury while warming up for Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga club said late Thursday that the 27-year-old Azmoun is expected to miss six to eight weeks after tearing a muscle in his right calf in the warm-up […]
1 day ago
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) walks out to greet teammates after a field goal durin...
Associated Press

Wilson shoulders blame as Broncos fall 12-9 to Colts in OT

DENVER (AP) — Russell Wilson had a chance to put the game away late. He threw an interception in the end zone. The Denver Broncos quarterback had another shot to win the game in overtime. He threw a game-ending incompletion on fourth-and-short while never looking at an uncovered receiver. Brought in for moments such as […]
1 day ago
Khris Middleton scores 44 points, Bucks rally to beat Suns