Milwaukee Bucks rally for Game 4 Finals win against Phoenix Suns

The series returns to Phoenix tied 2-2

The+Suns+did+not+make+a+first-round+selection+in+the+2021+NBA+Draft.

Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns did not make a first-round selection in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Daniel Moreno, Reporter

Suns shooting guard Devin Booker went toe-to-toe with Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton through all four quarters on Wednesday night.  However, it was a mixture of foul trouble and ball security that kept Booker and the Suns from claiming the Game 4 win.

Milwaukee’s 109-103 win at Fiserv Forum evened the series at two games apiece entering Saturday’s pivotal Game 5.

Suns point guard Chris Paul was unable to impact the fourth quarter in his usual fashion, instead committing a game-changing turnover, one of five Paul had in the game. Phoenix turned the ball over 17 times in the loss.

“We certainly had a lot of self-inflicted stuff tonight,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.

Hopes were high in the first, with the Suns getting off to a hot start and jumping out to a 12-4 lead. However, following the trend of the evening, the Bucks remained within striking distance and trimmed the lead to just three points by the end of the quarter.

Suns power forward Jae Crowder (15 points) provided some long-range artillery with a couple of three-pointers in the second quarter. With Booker back on track following a rough outing in Game 3, the two teams went back and forth as the Bucks erased any early doubts and by halftime had tied the game at 52.

Booker became an unconscious offensive threat in the middle of the third, scoring 10 straight at one point and finishing with a game-high 42. The Suns’ squad appeared rejuvenated under the heat Booker’s sizzling shooting generated and pulled together a six-point lead to end the quarter despite foul trouble from several players — including Booker, who had five personal fouls and was fortunate to avoid picking up a sixth in the fourth quarter. Williams had to be careful with Booker in the second half so that the star guard would avoid fouling out.

“He could have gone for 50-plus (points) tonight,” Williams said. “It’s not an ideal situation, but I thought we managed it well tonight. We were able to get him back in when the game was still tight, and we actually had the lead, I think. The thing that’s on my mind more than anything is how many possessions we gave them tonight (with turnovers).”

The one-two punch from All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points) and Middleton (40 points) eventually wrestled the lead away from Phoenix late in the game. Middleton made tough bucket after tough bucket, putting the Paul/Booker duo off-balance in crunch time.

Antetokounmpo put on a defensive clinic with 16 rebounds and made the play of the night with 1:14 remaining, as he met DeAndre Ayton at the rim and blocked the Suns center’s game-tying dunk attempt.

“Just a hustle play,” Antetokounmpo said about his thunderous, game-sealing block. “I thought I was going to get dunked on, to be honest with you…I saw the play coming and saw that (Devin Booker) is throwing the lob, (so I decided) I just was going to jump vertical towards the rim, hopefully I can be there in time. And I was there in time.”

Game 5 will be back in Phoenix Suns Arena at 6:00 p.m. local time Saturday. The Suns are 8-2 at home this postseason and will need a much better team performance to overcome Antetokounmpo’s resurgent Bucks.

“We have to bounce back. That’s why we fought all season to get home court.”

— Chris Paul

“It’s really tough whenever you can’t win a game (like this), especially at this point in the season,” Booker said.

Paul (10 points) stated that he had to be better and the team’s mental resolve would be key in trying to retake the series lead on Saturday.

“At this point, both teams know each other,” Paul said. “It’s about execution. Down the stretch, I have to box out (and) we have to execute. We’re a team that’s closed out games like (Game 4) all season long, so this is a tough one. We have to bounce back. That’s why we fought all season to get home court.”