Khris Middleton and Devin Booker put on dazzling scoring performances in Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals. Booker scored a game-high 42 points for the Phoenix Suns, but Middleton scored a career playoff-high of 40 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-103 victory. The Bucks pulled even in the NBA Finals at 2-2.
The Bucks won and covered the point spread in both of their games at home. The Bucks are now 9-1 at Fiserv Forum during the postseason.
After falling behind 2-0, the Bucks tied the series. They’re trying to become the fifth team in NBA history to win a championship after trailing 2-0.
“We wanted this bad and the team showed it tonight,” said Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo.
The NBA Finals return to Phoenix for Game 5 on Saturday. The Suns opened as a -3.5 favorite. They won and covered the first two games on their home court last week. “This is a tough one but we’ve got to bounce back,” said Chris Paul. “That’s why we fought all season to get home court.”
The Suns saw their NBA title odds slip to -145, while the Bucks were bumped to +125.
Booker bounces back with 42
A smoking hot Booker tallied 38 points through three quarters in Game 4.
“Book was locked in,” said head coach Monty Williams. “This morning he looked really good in our warmups, shoot-arounds. His focus to play on offense was really good for us. That’s just his mindset. We knew he was going to bounce back from the other night. He was drawing fouls himself, and that helps us when he gets to the line.”
Booker had a rough Game 3 with only 10 points while shooting 3-for-14. In Game 4, he shot 17-for-28, but missed all three of his 3-pointers. The officials targeted Booker for a couple of ticky-tack fouls early in the game, but they also looked the other way in the fourth quarter when Booker should’ve been whistled for multiple fouls.
After picking up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, Booker exited the game for several minutes. He scored just four points in the final frame and finished with 42 points.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” said a dejected Booker said. “The main objective is to win the game. So, anything that goes on throughout the game, it doesn’t matter, for real.”
Once again, the Suns ended up on the bad end of home cooking by the officials. The Bucks shot 29 free throws compared to only 19 from the Suns. The Suns were whistled for 24 fouls, including five each on Booker and Crowder.
The Suns attempted to slow down Antetokounmpo with the so-called Giannis Wall. He torched them for 41 points in Game 3 and 42 points in Game 2, but only scored 26 points in Game 4. With the defensive onus on stopping Antetokounmpo, the Bucks overlooked Middleton, who made them pay dearly with 40 points.
Middleton shot 15-for-33 from the floor, including 3-for-8 from 3-point range. He knocked down two huge buckets to put the Bucks ahead in the final two minutes.
“Khris has no fear and he never has,” said Jrue Holiday.
Middleton also hit four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory for the Bucks and reach 40 points, which set a career-high. He made up for a horrible shooting night from his backcourt mate Holiday. Holiday struggled once again with only 13 points on 4-for-20 shooting, including an 0-for-5 clip from downtown.
Antetokounmpo wasn’t the main focal point of the offense in Game 4, but it’s his defense that might have saved the game. He blocked a potential dunk by Deandre Ayton late in the game.
“I thought I was going to get dunked on,” said Antetokounmpo.
“That’s an NBA Finals special moment right there, and we’re going to need more of them,” said Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA playoffs.