Six lead changes in the final 42 seconds. Six consecutive made baskets to close the game out. One ridiculous buzzer beater. One win for the road team.
The Milwaukee Bucks got off to a very sluggish first half against the Phoenix Suns, allowing them to get whatever Phoenix wanted offensively while struggling to get anything going on the other end of the court. The Suns posted a +18 advantage from three and were aided inside by Markieff Morris, who led the Suns with 25p/7r--17 of those points coming in the first half.
To make matters worse for the Bucks, Jabari Parker left the game early in the second after suffering a knee injury that was later diagnosed as a left knee sprain. Parker had to be helped off the court by teammates, and he will undergo further tests to determine the severity of what appeared to be a serious injury. After the injury, nobody would have been surprised if the Bucks came up short.
But they did not.
Though Isaiah Thomas (20p) got hot in the second half as the Suns tried to keep the ball rolling, the Bucks were able to chip away at the lead a few times with a lineup consisting mostly of Jerryd Bayless/Brandon Knight/Khris Middleton/Jared Dudley/Zaza Pachulia. The small ball group turned up their defense and kept making shots to keep pace with Phoenix until they finally broke through and grabbed the lead with just a few minutes left in the fourth. From there, chaos ensued.
After a Dudley three put the Bucks up one with under a minute to go, the Suns retaliated with a quick Morris basket. Then, off a well-designed play, Knight curled around a screen and hit a floater with 7.2 seconds left, part of his team-high 20 points.
Off the following inbounds play, Morris got a wide open jumper at the free throw line and buried it to put the Suns back up with 3.5 seconds left. After failing to get the subsequent inbounds pass in, the Bucks called a timeout and rearranged the personnel for the final shot. Khris Middleton got the next attempt in to Jared Dudley, who immediately handed it back of to Middleton. After being closed off by his defender, Middleton spun back around, hoisted up a bit of a leaner. The ball caromed off the glass, swirled around the rim for an eternity and dropped in.
BANGO. Bucks win.
-- With Giannis ineffective against P.J. Tucker and Jabari injured, the Bucks still managed to have six players score in double digits, and they needed every last bit of it. Though his critical late game turnover nearly caused several heart attacks, Knight played pretty solid basketball with his 20p/7r/4a. Zaza Pachulia (13p/3r/5a), Arizona native Jerryd Bayless (11p/4r/4a) and former Sun Jared Dudley (10p/5r) chimed in with super timely baskets and Middleton (14p) came up huge. The Bucks supporting cast doesn't make the headlines much, but tonight's victory is because of their efforts. Kudos.
-- There usually would be more things to point out tonight, but let's be honest: we're all thinking about Jabari Parker's knee injury. We'll learn a lot more in the next 24 hours, but for now all anyone can do is wait and offer up support in whatever way they prefer. We're all hoping for the best, or at least not the worst. Fingers crossed for Jabari.