The Milwaukee Bucks entered Thursday night’s 114-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns down two starters in Damian Lillard (ankle) and Brook Lopez (personal reasons). Before the first quarter was over, they were missing another one, as Khris Middleton went down with an ankle injury of his own.
Middleton underwent X-rays at the arena that came back negative, but he left on crutches and in a walking boot, according to Eric Nehm.
About six minutes into the game, Middleton had the ball on the wing and was guarded by Kevin Durant. He worked himself into a rhythm, pulled up for a 3-pointer, and unfortunately landed on Durant’s foot. His left ankle rolled violently, and he collapsed to the floor in obvious pain.
After briefly reviewing the monitor, the officials upgraded the foul to a Flagrant 1 on Durant. Middleton took the flagrant free throws himself — he went 1-of-2 — and briefly remained in the game. However, he was not moving well and checked out at the next dead ball. He immediately went back to the locker room with the Bucks’ medical staff and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
It’s still too early to tell how serious this issue is for Middleton and the Bucks. The X-rays coming back negative is an encouraging sign, but there’s no telling how his ankle may respond in the coming hours and days, and he’s likely to undergo more imaging when the team returns to Milwaukee. Regardless, the Bucks will likely take the cautious route given Middleton’s health problems in recent years.
Dating back to the 2022 playoffs, when he sprained the MCL in his left knee in the first round, Middleton has been a regular on the injured list. He’s dealt with a myriad of upper and lower body problems and has undergone two surgeries — one on his wrist and another on his knee last summer.
Having him healthy for the postseason will be paramount, even if that means he has to miss a few more regular season games than he’d prefer. The loss to the Suns was the conclusion of a frustrating 1-4 road trip for the Bucks, who are now 33-18 on the season and tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with the New York Knicks.