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The Bucks Spoiled Devin Booker’s 42-Point Night To Even The NBA Finals At 2-2

The NBA Finals arrived at Game 4 in Milwaukee with the Suns leading 2-1, but the Bucks feeling confident after a 20-point win in Game 3. In that game, Devin Booker had his worst performance of the playoffs, scoring just 10 points and sitting the entire fourth quarter as Monty Williams seemed intent on getting his star some rest in what was increasingly becoming a lost cause.

That decision seemed to pay dividends early in Game 4, as Booker came out on a mission and carried the Suns offense almost single-handedly with one of the best individual scoring efforts the NBA Finals has ever seen. Booker scored 38 points on 22 shots in the first three quarters of action, serving as the only Suns player in double figures until a fourth quarter Jae Crowder free throw got him to 10 with just over seven minutes to play (Crowder finished with 15, second most on the Suns). Booker did it all without making a three-pointer — he made a couple almost threes with his foot on the line — as it was a midrange shot-making exhibition from the young star to bounce back from a disappointing Game 3 in a big way.

On the other side, Khris Middleton did his best to provide an answer for the Bucks, keeping Milwaukee in the game and knocking down a late three in the second quarter to tie the game going to the half.

Booker picked up where he left off in the third quarter, just lighting up the Bucks with 18 in the third as he looked to be headed for a legendary Finals performance.

However, like Deandre Ayton in Game 3, foul trouble plagued Booker who picked up his fifth foul just over a minute into the fourth quarter and went to the bench for the next five minutes, where the Bucks started reeling in the sluggish Phoenix offense — but to the Suns credit, they were able to hold the lead until Booker returned.

Milwaukee’s offense was likewise struggling to hit shots for much of Game 4, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton (to an extent) as the lone exceptions. It was those two who provided the playmaking on both ends late to lead the Bucks to a thrilling victory, as they showed a resiliency in the fourth once thought to be a significant void on this Bucks team.

A seemingly pivotal moment in the game came with under four minutes to play when the Bucks got out on the fastbreak and somehow Booker wasn’t called for a foul as he wrapped up Jrue Holiday, with Giannis cleaning up the loose ball to make it a one-point Phoenix lead.

Booker clearly tried to give a foul, putting his hand on Holiday’s back and wrapping up, but somehow wasn’t called, a gift from the basketball gods to the Suns to keep their star in the game. However, that didn’t prove to be the break Phoenix needed to win the game and take a commanding series lead, as Pat Connaughton gave the Bucks their first lead of the fourth quarter with a corner three off a beautiful feed from Giannis.

Booker had the answer initially with his first bucket of the fourth to tie the game, and then Jae Crowder knocked down a pair of free throws to give Phoenix a two-point lead again at 99-97.

At that point, Middleton woke up with back-to-back midrange jumpers to give Milwaukee a 101-99 lead. On the ensuing Suns possession, Booker drew all of the attention of the Bucks defense and threw a lob up to a wide open Deandre Ayton that looked to surely tie the game, but Giannis had other ideas producing the play of the game with an outrageous block on Ayton’s dunk attempt.

That block will live in Finals lore forever should the Bucks come back to win the championship, as it’s up there with some of the very best individual defensive plays we’ve ever seen, considering the moment.

Middleton missed two shots on the other end to take a two-possession lead, but Chris Paul slipped and turned it over for Phoenix, with Middleton finishing over Booker on the runout to give Milwaukee a 103-99 lead with under a minute to play.

A Booker miss on a layup (where he thought he was fouled) effectively put the game away as Middleton earned back-to-back trips to the free throw line to put the game on ice. In the end, the Bucks finished with a 109-103 win and send the series back to Phoenix all even at 2-2, with Game 4 providing the most drama we’ve had thus far in the Finals.

It delivered on all notes, with Booker providing a sensational individual performance with 42 points on 28 shots, Middleton nearly matching him with 40 points of his own on 33 shots, and Giannis stepping up on both ends when his team needed him most, posting 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two blocks — including the lasting image of the game with his block on Ayton.

As for Game 5, we’ll have to see if the Suns can finally get their stars going at the same time. That issue has often plagued the Bucks, but in Game 4 it was Phoenix’s turn to see one of its stars struggle to provide the needed support for the other, as Chris Paul was rather disastrous out there with 10 points, seven assists, and five turnovers on 5-of-13 shooting. For Milwaukee, Jrue Holiday was likewise dreadful offensively, continuing his shooting woes in the series, but his defensive effort on Paul negated that and Middleton stepped up in a heroic way to carry the Bucks offense for stretches, most notably late in the fourth quarter.

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