Despite a strong start, Milwaukee Bucks All-Star swingman Khris Middleton fell to Domantas Sabonis in the semifinals of the Taco Bells Skills Challenge Saturday night in Chicago.
For the second straight year, Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton pulled double duty for NBA All-Star Weekend.
After having underperformed in the 3-Point Shootout in Toronto in 2016, and Charlotte last year, Middleton took his talents to the Taco Bell Skills Challenge with his second straight All-Star selection.
Along with Middleton, the event also included fellow All-Stars Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, and Jayson Tatum. And Patrick Beverley, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander filled out the remaining participants.
First, Middleton was matched up against Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the opening round as he was listed among the forward/big men portion of the bracket.
The 28-year-old made light work of going through the cones and completing the passing element of the obstacle course. After converting his easy layup on the first try, Middleton advanced to the semifinals after knocking down his second 3-point attempt to knock out the second-year Thunder guard.
Middleton then met up against Sabonis, after the Indiana Pacers big man knocked out the reigning champ in Tatum.
The two-time All-Star swingman got off to a great start, especially after completing the passing drill on the first time once again. But then disaster struck as Middleton lost his handle on the ball on his way toward the other end to put down the lay up.
Middleton picked up the pace to make up the ground lost to Sabonis and the two traded back and forth 3-point attempts until the first-time Pacers All-Star knocked out Middleton on his fourth attempt from downtown.
Sabonis went on to fall to Adebayo in the championship round, and the Heat first-time All-Star took it home to become the third big man to take the honor, following the footsteps of Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kristaps Porzingis of the Dallas Mavericks.
It was certainly an improved showing from Middleton, but still an unfortunate ending, especially after having gotten off to a great start in both rounds. Still, a much better result for the Charleston native in the Skills Challenge compared to his struggles in the 3-point contest.
And while Middleton has shown his hops throwing down some hammers on occasion, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to do all three events throughout his career.