Sunday's NBA playoffs: No Giannis, no problem: Bucks top Heat in OT, force Game 5
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Giannis Antetokounmpo was waiting in the locker room for his teammates Sunday, standing on his bad right ankle to greet every one of them.
His day ended early.
His season isn’t over yet.
Khris Middleton scored 36 points, including a big 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left in overtime, and the Milwaukee Bucks avoided a sweep by beating the Miami Heat 118-115 in overtime of Game 4 of the teams’ Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Heat still lead 3-1, but the Bucks – the best team in the regular season – are still alive, even after Antetokounmpo left early in the second quarter with an aggravation of his sprained right ankle.
“Khris is very unique,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s got a way about him. He wanted to play. He asked to stay in the game.”
As if there was any other option. Middleton’s season-high before Sunday was 40 minutes; he logged 48 in Game 4, taking over with Antetokounmpo watching from the locker room.
“Just keep fighting,” said Middleton, who also had eight rebounds and eight assists. “That’s all my teammates did.”
Bam Adebayo had 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Miami. Duncan Robinson scored 20 points, Jae Crowder had 18 and Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler each finished with 17 for the Heat.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game,” Butler said.
Miami had an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, promptly allowed the Bucks to score the next 12, and now needs to come back Tuesday in an effort to finish the series off.
“At the end of the day, we should have played like we did in Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3,” Adebayo said.
Antetokounmpo scored 19 points for the Bucks in only 11 minutes, while Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe each had 14 for Milwaukee. George Hill added 12 for the Bucks.
Miami managed only two points in the first 4:30 of overtime, got within one on a 3-pointer from Tyler Herro, but Middleton delivered the biggest shot of the night to make it 116-112.
Herro made another 3-pointer with 3.0 seconds left, but Middleton sealed it with a pair of free throws – and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra lauded Milwaukee’s effort afterward.
“The reality is, they deserved to win the game,” Spoelstra said. “They were doing things with more force, more consistency.”
Antetokounmpo had 19 of Milwaukee’s first 30 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the floor. But in an instant, everything changed for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo aggravated his sprained right ankle with 10:18 left in the second quarter, rolling it inward – just as he did in Game 3 on Friday – as he tried to drive past Miami’s Andre Iguodala. He tumbled to the court, grabbing the ankle and screaming in pain.
He took the free throws; without doing that, he would not have been permitted to return. But at halftime, the Bucks delivered the word that he would not be back.
So, his game was over.
The Bucks’ season wasn’t. Milwaukee said Antetokounmpo would get plenty of treatment Sunday night and Monday before a decision is made about his availability for Tuesday.
“He’s going to be back,” Bledsoe said.
Middleton did all he could to keep the Bucks afloat, scoring 21 points in the third quarter – the highest-scoring quarter of his career – on 6 for 9 shooting from the field and 7 for 7 from the foul line. His previous quarter-best was 20, on Nov. 1, 2017 against Charlotte.
He set the tone, and the Bucks’ season is still alive.
“We’ve got to fight every night to keep on playing,” Middleton said.
More NBA playoffs
L.A. Lakers 117, Houston 109: LeBron James had 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, Anthony Davis added 34 points and 10 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers evened the Western Conference semifinals.
Markieff Morris scored 16 points for the Lakers. They opened a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 41 points in the third quarter to fall behind, and then regrouped behind some high-flying plays by James to pull away again.
James took only 15 shots in Game 1 and was scoreless in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 112-97 loss, but he was dominant on both ends in the final period of this one. He had eight points in the quarter and a powerful blocked shot on Russell Westbrook that flew far out of bounds.
James Harden scored 27 points and Eric Gordon made six 3-pointers and added 24 for the Rockets, who made 22 3-pointers. P.J. Tucker had 18 points and Robert Covington 17, but Westbrook finished only 4 for 15 while scoring 10 points and grabbing 13.
Miami 3, Milwaukee 1
Monday, Aug. 31: Miami 115, Milwaukee 104
Wednesday, Sept. 2: Miami 116, Milwaukee 114
Friday, Sept. 4: Miami 115, Milwaukee 100
Sunday, Sept. 6: Milwaukee 118, Miami 115, OT
Tuesday, Sept. 8: Miami vs. Milwaukee, 6:30 p.m.
x-Thursday, Sept. 10: Milwaukee vs. Miami, TBD
x-Saturday, Sept. 12: Miami vs. Milwaukee, TBD
Boston 2, Toronto 2
Sunday, Aug. 30: Boston 112, Toronto 94
Tuesday, Sept. 1: Boston 102, Toronto 99
Thursday, Sept. 3: Toronto 104, Boston 103
Saturday, Sept. 5: Toronto 100, Boston 93
Monday, Sept. 7: Boston vs. Toronto 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Toronto vs. Boston, 6:30 p.m.
x-Friday, Sept. 11: Boston vs. Toronto, TBD
Houston 1, L.A. Lakers 1
Friday, Sept. 4: Houston 112, L.A. Lakers 97
Sunday, Sept. 6: L.A. Lakers 117, Houston 109
Tuesday, Sept. 8: L.A. Lakers, vs. Houston, 9 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 10: L.A. Lakers vs. Houston, TBD
Saturday, Sept. 12: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD
x-Monday, Sept. 14: L.A. Lakers vs. Houston, TBD
x-Wednesday, Sept. 16: Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, TBD
L.A. Clippers 1, Denver 1
Thursday, Sept. 3: L.A. Clippers 120, Denver 97
Saturday, Sept. 5: Denver 110, L.A. Clippers 101
Monday, Sept. 7: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, 9 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 11: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD
x-Sunday, Sept. 13: L.A. Clippers vs. Denver, TBD
x-Tuesday, Sept. 15: Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, TBD