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Khris Middleton reminds everyone of his importance to Bucks with season-high 44 points in win over Suns

Middleton finished with 44 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and hit some huge shots down the stretch

By Jack Maloney Mar 6, 2022 at 7:57 pm ET2 min read


MILWAUKEE — Breaking free off a screen, Landry Shamet took a pass from Cameron Payne and powered into the open space in front of him. Realizing the danger, Giannis Antetokounmpo came over and leapt in the air, forcing Shamet to drop the ball off to Deandre Ayton under the rim. Similar situations have led to some of Giannis’ most impressive defensive moments, but this time, as he tried to recover back to Ayton, he committed a foul — his sixth of the game. 

The Bucks would have to play the final minute-plus without their two-time MVP, and were clinging to a five-point lead. It could have been a nervy finish, but the Bucks still had Khris Middleton. The veteran stepped up with some of his trademark clutch shot-making, draining a turnaround fadeaway and step-back 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to seal the win. 

Middleton finished with a season-high 44 points, eight rebounds and five assists on the day, as the Bucks took down the Suns in a Finals rematch, 132-122. Most importantly, with Giannis limited due to foul trouble, he went for 16 points on 6-of-10 from the field in the fourth quarter. 

“He’s a bucket,” Jrue Holiday said. “I knew that that before I got here. I haven’t learned much, but that’s what he does. I do know that s–t is amazing. It’s amazing to watch. Just how he gets to his spots, how he takes his time, how it just seems like nobody affects him, it’s just him and the hoop. It’s really fun to watch.”

It was fitting that Middleton’s best game of the season came against the Suns in a national TV showcase. Not only was it reminiscent of his 40-point performance in Game 4 of the Finals, when he came up with huge buckets time and again down the stretch, but it was a reminder of his abilities. 


Middleton is perhaps the most even-keel star in the league, and plays with a below-the-basket style that doesn’t lend itself to highlights. He just cruises along doing his thing, and that, combined with Giannis’ brilliance, means Middleton is often overlooked. 

But when the game is on the line and the defense starts to ratchet up, few players in the league are more capable of creating and making tough baskets than Middleton. He’s 18th in fourth-quarter scoring at 5.7 points per game, and that’s despite playing with Giannis, who has more fourth-quarter points than anyone in the league besides DeMar DeRozan

“Scorers and shooters always want to shoot every time they’re out there,” Middleton said. “Even when they don’t the ball they still feel like they’re open. But the work that I put in over the years to have confidence to shoot some of the shots that I work everyday in practice. When you see those shots going in you just think about those hours you spent trying to perfect that move, perfect that shot.”

Giannis runs the show, but the Bucks aren’t the Bucks without Middleton, and he made that crystal clear again on Sunday. 


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