MILWAUKEE – The ball was in the hands of their veteran leader, and the Phoenix Suns were trying to clinch a victory during the final minutes of Game 4 of the NBA Finals when not once, but twice, Chris Paul lost the ball late. in Wednesday’s game, a 109-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The pair of unforced errors led to two touchdowns by Milwaukee, one with 3:40 to play to reduce the Suns ‘lead to one point and another with 27.2 seconds to play that raised the Bucks’ lead to four, and fueled a raging end of the Bucks. to even the series 2-2.
“It was me,” Paul said, responding to why Phoenix had 17 turnovers as a team compared to just five for Milwaukee. “I had five of them. It was bad decision making.”
The Suns outscored the Bucks 51.3% to 40.2% in shooting percentage, but they had 19 fewer shot attempts due to turnovers and all the offensive rebounds they gave Milwaukee. The Bucks’ 17 offensive boards led to 19 second-chance points.
“They got a significant number of shots more than us, so I have to do a better job protecting the ball,” Paul continued. “We had 17 turnovers, we threw the ball too well not to have those chances to score.”
It was Paul’s worst playoff game since the first round when he was playing with a sore shoulder against the Los Angeles Lakers. Beyond turnovers, he had just 10 points on 5 of 13 shooting and seven assists, well below his averages of 19.2 points and 8.7 assists this postseason.
“Turnovers just crushed us tonight,” Suns coach Monty Williams said of his team’s mistakes. “When you have that kind of advantage in the fourth segment, if we can hold onto the ball and get good possessions, you feel like you can at least keep it there … we certainly had a lot of self-inflicted things tonight.”
And then there were the things that affected the game through the whistles of the umpires, something that is becoming a theme in this competitive series.
A big reason the Suns hit more than 50% of their shots was Devin Booker’s brilliant game when he scored 42 points on 17 of 28 shots.
As cool as he looked, he committed five fouls, limiting his playing time in the fourth quarter, and was called a sixth and disqualified around the 3:40 mark when Giannis Antetokounmpo scored on the first loss of the two that Paul had late to cut the Suns’ lead to one point.
After Paul fumbled the ball and Jrue Holiday ran to the other end with the ball, Booker chased Holiday and wrapped him up. The box score credited Booker for a block on Holiday, which Antetokounmpo cleared with a layup. However, umpires’ crew chief James Capers told a reporter after the game that Booker should have been called for a foul on the play.
“During the live game, I saw a clean block from the ball and I thought there was no whistle,” Capers said. “However, after watching the replay, I realize I didn’t see Booker’s right arm around Holiday’s waist, and it should have been a defensive foul on the play.”
The Bucks won and Antetokounmpo scored after the no-call at Holiday, so perhaps there was no damage in that no-foul. Although Williams wondered what might have happened to Booker if he hadn’t been called for a fifth foul early in the fourth quarter while struggling with PJ Tucker.
“It’s difficult, because he could have scored more than 50 tonight,” Williams said of the decision to keep Booker on the bench from the 10:50 mark of the fourth segment until 5:55 left to try to avoid a sixth foul. “You’re just trying to get as solid stops and possessions as you can. [en ofensiva]But it is not an ideal situation. “
When Booker came out, the Suns were leading by six. When he returned, they were winning by three. So they stood their ground without him. It was those last few minutes that really brought Phoenix down.
“This is the Finals,” Cameron Johnson said when asked if the ending was a shock after Phoenix led 37:55 of the first 44 minutes of the game before the Bucks made their final push. “It’s the Finals, you won’t get away with anything easy. You won’t get to a victory without a problem. I’m sure they’ll say the same thing. It’s three more games, you know. Three more. You have to get two. from those”.
“But here there is no such thing [un triunfo cómodo]. The stakes are high, the stakes high. They know what is at stake. We know what is at stake. We come up here 2-0. You know what they were talking about in their locker room. Now you know what we are going to talk about in our dressing room. “