Middleton leads Bucks past pesky Wizards in OT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Khris Middleton suddenly went cold down the stretch against the Washington Wizards.

Fortunately for the Milwaukee Bucks, he kept shooting.

With Giannis Antetotkounmpo fouled out, Middleton bounced back from five straight misses and scored Milwaukee’s final nine points and the Bucks beat Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards 137-134 in overtime.

“It was frustrating,” Middletown said of his cold stretch from late in regulation to early in overtime. “I thought they were easy shots, great looks that I knock down a majority of the time. Going into the timeouts, going back on defence, everybody was just telling me to keep shooting.”

Middleton, who finished with 40 points, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 30.2 seconds left to give the Bucks a 135-132 lead.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton dribbles against Washington Wizards guard Shabazz Napier. PHOTO: AP

After Beal — who had his second straight 50-point game — made two free throws, Middleton was fouled with 7.8 seconds left and made both attempts from the line to make it 137-134 and Troy Brown, Jr’s three-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer.

“We definitely didn’t want (Beal) to take the last shot,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We feel fortunate that we made one more play than them probably down the stretch.”

Beal, who had a then-career high 53 points in a loss at Chicago last Sunday, topped it with a 55-point effort that included 22 points in the fourth quarter and seven more in overtime.

“I was just locked in and I just was having fun,” said Beal, the first player in franchise history to have back-to-back 50-point games. “Probably the most fun game I’ve ever played in.”

On the day of Kobe Bryant’s Memorial Service in Los Angeles, Beal became the first player since Bryant in March 2007 to score 50-plus points on consecutive days.

“Oh man, that’s crazy,” Beal said. “Didn’t know that. That’s who Kobe was. That was his drive and that ceremony today just brought the feeling, the tears all back again.”

Shabazz Napier added a season-high 27 points for Washington, which has lost three straight.

Antetokounmpo had 22 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out with 1:33 remaining in regulation for Milwaukee, which has won 17 of 19.

The Wizards rallied from 17 points down to take a 123-121 lead on Beal’s three with 1:01 remaining.

Eric Bledsoe’s free throws tied it and after a miss by Beal, Middleton missed as well. Felipe Lopez blocked Rui Hachimura’s layup attempt off a pass from Beal with 1:0 second left and Milwaukee’s alley-oop toss at the buzzer failed.

“I probably should’ve shot the ball at the end of (regulation),” Beal said. “Granted Rui (Hachimura) was wide open. I should’ve threw a zip pass to him. I kind of lobbed it to him, so I set him up for failure.”