A moment later, Middleton was getting picked up and swarmed by his teammates in celebration.
Middleton was brilliant in the Bucks’ Game 5 win over the Suns on Wednesday. He scored 40 points despite being forced into many tough jumpers. His clutch play was particularly outstanding, including the dagger layup while getting knocked down by Booker. Snubbed as an All-Star, Middleton made Finals history.
Yet, Booker outscored him.
With 42 points in his own unprecedented Finals performance, Booker shined despite the loss. His mid-range shooting was superb and a key reason Phoenix even had a lead to blow.
Together, Booker and Middleton created one of the best-ever scoring duels in the NBA Finals. This is just the fourth time opposing players both scored 40 points in an Finals game:
2021 Game 4 Bucks 109, Suns 103: Devin Booker 42 | Khris Middleton 40
2001 Game 1 76ers 107, Lakers 101: Allen Iverson 48 | Shaquille O’Neal 44
1993 Game 2 Bulls 111, Suns 108: Michael Jordan 42 | Charles Barkley 42
1969 Game 2 Lakers 118, Celtics 112: John Havlicek 43 | Jerry West 41
Here are the highest harmonic means* between opposing scoring leaders in a Finals game:
*Harmonic mean – unlike traditional average, which counts both point totals equally – assigns weight to balance