According to SLAM's NBA Footwear Database, Khris Middleton wears size 18 sneakers. I'm willing to bet that, just for one night, the Milwaukee Bucks forward wishes his kicks came a couple of sizes smaller.
After racing out to an early 18-point lead, giving it all back by the end of the third quarter and trailing the Charlotte Bobcats by five points with 1:36 remaining in the fourth, the Bucks charged back to force overtime thanks to this game-tying 3-pointer by shooting guard O.J. Mayo with one second on the game clock:
Mayo's triple knotted the score at 101 and sent the game into overtime, where the two teams traded baskets (and fatigue-induced misses) into the closing seconds.
With Charlotte leading 109-108 and 19.8 seconds remaining in the extra frame, the Bobcats' swarming defense forced the feckless Bucks offense into scrambling, resulting in a late-in-the-shot-clock left-elbow jumper by Middleton that went awry and was rebounded by 'Cats point guard Kemba Walker. Brandon Knight fouled immediately, putting Walker on the line for a pair of freebies; the UConn product made his free throws this time around, unlike last Wednesday's OT session against the the Toronto Raptors. Bucks head coach Larry Drew took a timeout to advance the ball and draw up a play.
Trailing by three with just 1.6 seconds left on the clock, Milwaukee had just one chance to extend the game. They came up about half a foot short.
The Bucks triggered some motion off the referee's whistle, with Knight streaking left and Mayo cutting right from the top of the key, looping around screens at the elbows from Middleton and John Henson. But while Mayo continued his curl all the way along the baseline and back into the left corner, Knight quickly darted back through the paint past the foul line to set a screen freeing Middleton to pop from the left elbow all the way across the court to the right corner, directly in front of Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford, busily barking for any Bobcat within range of his voice to keep an eye out for No. 22 streaking free and clear:
As Henson and Knight do just enough with their screens to make put Walker and Charlotte wing Chris Douglas-Roberts out of position, rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo lofts a perfect cross-court lob pass to the right corner, hitting Middleton right in the hands as he reaches the corner. Middleton catches, rises, fires and splashes through the jumper with no time left on the clock. Great call, great design, great pass, great shot. Great work, everyone.
One thing, though, wasn't so great:
In his haste to stop, catch and shoot before the final buzzer sounded, Middleton neglected to ensure that he was beyond the 3-point line. Instead, his size 18s straddled the arc as he rose, turning what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer into a mere long 2 ... and a double-overtime affair into a 111-110 Charlotte victory.
"I didn't know where I was," Middleton said after the game, according to Steve Reed of The Associated Press. "It was a good play and a good shot, but obviously my foot was on the line. Anybody wants that situation. I just caught it and shot it."
Unfortunately for Bucks fans, though, Middleton shot it from a few inches closer than he would've liked, providing a bittersweet end to a strong night that saw him chip in 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in 41 minutes. Knight (26 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds and just two turnovers in 38 minutes) led the way for the Bucks, who lost for the seventh time in 10 games to fall to an NBA-worst 6-22 on the season, including a 1-5 mark in overtime affairs.
On the other side, Walker (25 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds) and center Al Jefferson (26 points, nine rebounds) paced the surprising Bobcats to their fourth win in five games, drawing with a game of .500 on the season at 14-15 after climbing out of the big early hole they dug themselves.
“We don’t like getting down early like that, but it happens. And we’re a tough team,” Walker said after the game, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “We know we’re down but not out. We show we’re fighters.”
And the tale of the tape favored them on Monday night, much to the chagrin of Bucks fans ... or, at least, those Bucks fans who prefer victories to improved draft lottery odds.
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