Lake Buena Vista, Florida – 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.”