Bucks stayin’ alive; Lakers equalize

(Agence France-Presse) - September 8, 2020 - 12:00am

Khris Middleton starred as the Milwaukee Bucks, their backs against the wall and star Giannis Antetokounmpo injured, beat the Miami Heat, 118-115, in overtime on Sunday to stay alive in the NBA playoffs.

With reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo ruled out after aggravating his sprained right ankle in the first half, Middleton stepped up to score 36 points – including nine of the Bucks’ 11 in overtime.

A Middleton three-pointer put Milwaukee up 116-112 with 6.9 seconds left in the extra session. Miami rookie Tyler Herro drained a three-pointer to close the gap before Middleton made two free throws to seal the win.

Milwaukee, the Eastern Conference top seeds after posting the league’s best regular-season record, trimmed the deficit in the best-of-seven East semifinal to 3-1.

In Western Conference action, Anthony Davis scored 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and LeBron James added 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets, 117-109, to level their series at 1-1.

Milwaukee still have a mountain to climb as they try to become the first NBA team to rally from a 0-3 deficit to win a series.

“We all fought,” said Middleton, who led six Bucks players who scored in double-figures in the must-win game.

“Especially with Giannis going down the way he did. He came out and tried to fight for us with a bad ankle. We wanted to have his back and just fight for him and fight for everybody.”

Antetokounmpo had rolled his right ankle in the Bucks’ game-three defeat and twisted it again and went down hard in the second quarter.

It wasn’t clear if Antetokounmpo will be available in Game 5 on Tuesday.

James said the Lakers can’t expect anything to be easy against the potent offense of the Rockets after he and Davis led the Los Angeles side to a series-levelling win.

Stung by a game-one loss in which they were outscored 27-18 in the fourth quarter, the Lakers came out firing. The Rockets roared back in the third quarter to seize the lead before the Lakers regrouped.

James scored eight points in the fourth.

“I’m happy I was able to make a few plays for my teammates to even the series up,” he said.

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