The Man in the Middleton (Bucks at Wizards; 02.24.20)

Yusuf Abdullah/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


WASHINGTON — On a night when the NBA’s best team was forced to play more than half of Monday’s game without their best player and league MVP frontrunner, the Milwaukee Bucks’ fellow All-Star, Khris Middleton, put on an MVP-like performance down the stretch in keeping the Bucks’ steam train through the Eastern Conference charging forward.

Middleton scored 40 points for the Bucks — including his team’s final nine points of the game — who overcame the evaporation of a 17-point second half advantage, the disqualification of Giannis Antetokounmpo and a career-high 55 points from Wizards star Bradley Beal to defeat the Washington Wizards 137-134 at Capital One Arena on Monday night.

Antetokounmpo finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes played, as he fouled out with 1:33 remaining in regulation.

No worries, so long as Middleton was still on the court. He took over late in the overtime, including draining a three-pointer with 30.2 seconds remaining break a tie and give Milwaukee a 135-132 lead. His two free throws with 7.8 seconds left gave Milwaukee a three-point advantage and Troy Brown Jr.’s potential game-tying three pointer from the right corner went in and out right before the final buzzer.

Beal stole the show in the fourth quarter and almost stole the game for the Wizards, scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter and seven more in the extra session. His three-pointer with 1:01 remaining in the fourth gave Washington its first lead of the second half at 123-121. Eric Bledsoe’s two free throws tied the game, and misses by both teams on their final possessions sent the game to overtime.

Beal scored a then-career high 53 points just last night in a loss at Chicago, and tonight’s performance marked his ninth 40-plus game of the season.

Washington’s comeback was engineered mostly, along with Beal’s heroics, by its defense, as it forced 21 Milwaukee turnovers in making a fifth consecutive opponent commit at least 20 turnovers.

In the first matchup between the teams, Middleton scored a career-high 51 in a 151-131 Bucks victory. Milwaukee has now scored at least 100 points in 81 consecutive games, now tying for the third-longest streak in NBA history.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 14 pictures in total.

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