After three quarters, the Miami Heat were doing all they could just to fend off the Milwaukee Bucks. Then the fourth quarter started, and the Heat went into ludicrous speed.
Miami opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run in just over 2 minutes, building a 15-point lead then cruising to a 98-86 win over Milwaukee in their first-round playoff series Tuesday night.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points and added 7 rebounds. LeBron James finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
We held court, we protected it for 2 games," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. "We did what we're supposed to do now it's time to move on."
Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat.
For three quarters, the Bucks kept it close, taking advantage of Heat turnovers (the Heat had 14, including 6 in the first quarter) and sub-par three-point shooting (Miami shot 25% from beyond the arc for the first three quarters).
Milwaukee's bench scored 30 points (with 16 by Mike Dunleavy), but the Bucks' key offensive weapons, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, combined for just 15 points (all but one in the second half) with 9 turnovers. They had scored 48 points between them in Game 1.
Milwaukee was down 68-65 entering the fourth quarter. "They were doing some things that had us spinning around a little bit defensively, got us on our heels, and offensively we never got into a rhythm," Spoelstra said. "So we figured we were just going to have to find a way to grind in the fourth quarter, figuring it was going to be a close game."
But in a matter of minutes, the Heat had converted two turnovers and five offensive rebounds into 7 points in a 12-0 run, pushing the offense and leaving Milwaukee unable to react.
A three-point shot by Norris Cole (with a James assist) sent the capacity crowd at the AmericanAirlines Arena to their feet.
There was a brief scare with 6:59 remaining, when Shane Battier collided with Sanders while driving for a layup. Both players hit the court hard. Battier hit is head and Sanders immediately grabbed his right knee after the play.
Battier took two free throws (having been fouled by Sanders), then left the game to get four stitches in his chin. Sanders left the game a minute later.
Now the series shifts to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Thursday night. Up 2 games to none, the Heat can put the series firmly out of reach with a win.
Entering the playoffs, James has not lost a series in 10 tries when his teams have a 2-0 series lead. Wade hasn't lost either in 8 tries.
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