Bucks Come Back To Win Game 4, Even NBA Finals

Milwaukee Won 109-103, Thanks To 40 Points From Middleton

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks the ball during the second half against the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Milwaukee, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Paul Sancya/AP Photo

The weather couldn’t keep fans away from the Deer District on Wednesday for Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Rudy Anderson, a lifelong Bucks fan, hustled across town to catch the ending of the game with his fellow fans.

“I missed the whole game up until the last three minutes, drove all the way from 84th and Sunbury Court just to make it, to see this,” he said. “It was make or break, I had to. I love it.”

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And he saw an eventful few minutes. The Milwaukee Bucks came from behind to defeat the Phoenix Suns, 109-103, to even the series.

The Suns led throughout the first quarter, thanks to 6 rebounds from Deandre Ayton and 8 points from Devin Booker. He finished the first half with 20 points — twice the number he scored in all Game 3.

In contrast, the Suns’ Chris Paul posted just 2 points before halftime. Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday was quiet on offense to open Game 4, but he and P.J. Tucker made big contributions on defense, and the Bucks stuck around despite shooting poorly — just 32 percent — in the first quarter.

Fans wave towels as they cheer. The Fiserv Forum can be seen in the background.
Brady Weimer, left, Kaden Smith, center, and Kane Schoonover, right, cheer before the start of the 4th game of the NBA Finals between the Bucks and the Suns on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR
A sea of fans can be seen in front of the FIserv Forum.
Fans gather in the Deer District before a game between the Bucks and the Suns in the NBA Finals on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Milwaukee managed to force a handful of turnovers, and fan-favorite Bobby Portis got a big cheer when he checked into the game midway through the first quarter. He sunk a corner 3-pointer to pull Milwaukee within 4 points.

After back-to-back 40-point games, it was a slow start Wednesday for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He finished the first quarter with 4 points, two missed free throws and two missed 3-pointers. He finished the game with 26 points, 14 rebounds and a critical block in the final minutes.

With almost seven minutes left in the half, the Bucks managed to pull even, thanks to a pair of made free throws, then a layup from Brook Lopez. A jumper from Khris Middleton gave Milwaukee a 35-33 advantage. He finished the first half with 16 points as the teams exchanged baskets until the buzzer.

Fans in green Bucks jerseys drink beer as they walk outside.
Fans walk near the Fiserv Forum before the game between the Bucks and the Suns on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Phoenix led by as many as 9 points, but the teams were tied at 52 after the second quarter.

Jae Crowder, who played college ball at Marquette, made a 3-pointer for the Suns to open the second half.

After posting 10 points early in the quarter, Booker went to the bench with his fourth foul. With fewer than three minutes left in the period, Pat Connaughton made a 3-pointer to give Milwaukee a 70-69 lead. But it didn’t last long thanks to a driving layup from Cameron Payne.

Light from the screen illuminates fans as they watch the game.
Fans watch the Bucks play the Suns on a screen outside the Fiserv Forum on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

With Booker back in the game, the Suns took a 6-point lead into the final period.

Cameron Johnson opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Suns another 9-point advantage. Connaughton quickly answered. The Bucks eventually cut the lead to 2-points after a Middleton layup and two Antetokounmpo dunks.

But a fifth foul from Tucker gave the Suns a 3-point play to put them up by 5-points with more than 6 minutes left to play. Minutes later the Bucks pulled within 1 point thanks to a shot from Antetokounmpo, following what looked like a foul on Booker that went uncalled. It would have been his sixth of the game.

Connaughton hit a 3-pointer to give Milwaukee a 2-point lead that was quickly washed away by a shot from Booker and two free throws from Crowder. Fans at Fiserv Forum chanted their displeasure at the referees.

But the Bucks came back with 8-consecutive points from Middleton. He finished the game with 40 points, and Milwaukee closed out Game 4.

Kate Ludgate lives in Madison, but came to Milwaukee for the game. She and her friends were at the front of the crowd outside the stadium.

“How it was going back and forth was really just nerve-wracking to me overall and to, like, everybody around,” said Ludgate. “It was like, everybody’s booing and then cheering and then once we won, everybody was just so excited and hyped up about it.”

And K. John Smith, 20, came up from Chicago with his friends to watch the game from the Deer District.

“I’m a Bulls fan, but we need this series to go to seven so it can be more exciting,” said K. John Smith, 20. “My team not winning, so we may as well just have an exciting series, you know?”

For most fans gathered downtown in Milwaukee, though, the deafening chant was “Bucks in six.”

The Bucks haven’t won an NBA title since 1971, when they were led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, who were in attendance at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday. The Suns have never won a championship.

Game 5 is set for Saturday in Phoenix.

The game being played on a screen can be seen through the fingers of fans.
Fans hold their hands in the air as the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots a free throw in game four of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR
A fan in a Bucks jersey puts his hand over his heart as he records with his phone. Fireworks go off in the background.
Brandon Toicen of Waukesha records a Snapchat as fireworks are lit to celebrate the Bucks victory against the Suns in game four of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR