MIAMI – Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and the Milwaukee Bucks broke a 20-point deficit at half-time to beat the Miami Heat 113-98 on Friday night.
Antetokounmpo also got 16 rebounds and 9 assists for the Bucks, who became the first NBA team to score at least 20 points at half-time and to win by more than 11. Khris Middleton scored 21 and Eric Bledsoe scored 17 for the NBA- best Bucks, which improved to 52-17.
Milwaukee led Miami 71-36 in the second half.
That matched the biggest half-time deficit defeated for a win in the Bucks' history: they were down 72-52 at the break against the New York Knicks on February 18, 1977 and earned 124-123. They were 0-100 in all other cases, 0-77 on the road.
Justise Winslow racked up her 20 points in the first half for Miami, who had her lead over Orlando and Charlotte for eighth place in the Eastern Conference reduced to one game. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, Josh Richardson was 11 and Dwyane Wade was one of four players with 10 for Miami.
Antetokounmpo had full control of the second half, recovering an offensive rebound at 2:40 and leaving a pass in the head against Bledsoe for a layup and a lead of 110-92. Most fans did not see it – they had been away for a long time.
The Bucks lost Malcolm Brogdon in the first quarter with a straight heel. Brogdon was 0 for 3 in 6 1/2 minutes.
The recovery from 23 years was the biggest Bucks of the season, better than they had against Chicago on November 16. It was only the fifth game of the season where the Bucks were 20 or more, and they are now 2- 3 in those games.
Miami had a lead of 62-42 at the half and everything worked well.
And then, nothing worked.
The Heat came out strong, leading 25-8 before none of the starters came out for their first rest of the night. The biggest lead was 37-14 with a minute to go in the first quarter, and the Bucks reduced that total to 13 three times in the second quarter. Miami closed the half on a 10-3 push to bring the lead back to 20.
Everything has changed – and fast.
The Bucks scored as many points in the third quarter – five – as the Heat scored goals. Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova each had 10 points in the quarter, Miami scored 5 for 20 and 16-8 against 7, and the lead was reduced to one for the fourth.
Wade is injured late in the third quarter, catching his right hip. He made his way to the locker room, came back in the middle of the fourth and the Bucks had already increased by 10.
Bucks: The half-time deficit of 20 points was the biggest of the season for Milwaukee. The Bucks followed Chicago by 18 at the 16 November break. They then dominated the Bulls 78 to 41 in the second half and won easily. … George Hill came back after a nine-game absence with a strain of adductors. He was to start the second period with Brogdon.
Heat: It was the fourth time in franchise history that Miami lost in first place, with 20 or more victories at the half. The Heat had been 51-0 overall at home and 71-3 overall with a big lead at the break. … Miami signed a goalkeeper Charles Cooke 10 days before the match. Cooke was part of the G League affiliate in Sioux Falls.
Bucks' center, Brook Lopez, was 0 for 1 from 3 points. He now has up to 436 3 attempts for the 2018-1919 campaign, scarcely three to match Channing Frye's mark for most of his seven feet in a season. Frye tried 439 in 2010-11.
Miami wanted to become the second team of the season to beat Milwaukee twice. Only Phoenix has managed to do it so far in 2018-19.
Bucks: Welcome Philadelphia Sunday.
Heat: Welcome Charlotte Sunday.