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Seemingly buried by the flurry of 3-point shots from the Miami Heat, the Milwaukee Bucks retained their champion mentality and never gave up hope of rallying.
Then they pulled off one of their most emotional comebacks of the season.
Jrue Holiday collected a driving layup with 1.9 seconds left and the defending NBA champions rallied from a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes to beat the Conference-leading Heat. ‘East, 120-119 Wednesday night.
“We’ve done it before,” said Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 28 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. “We did it against Boston. We were down 13 in the Christmas game (with five minutes to go) and we came back and won the game.”
It was a win the Bucks needed as they entered the toughest part of their schedule.
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It was the last of six straight home games for the Bucks, who now visit the Central Division-leading Chicago Bulls and host the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns in their next two outings.
“We can’t really dwell on this win,” said Holiday, who had 25 points and 11 assists. “We accept it and we love it, but these games don’t stop.”
The Bucks beat Miami 21-6 down the stretch to end the Heat’s four-game winning streak. Miami, which shot 21 of 44 from 3-point range, led 119-116 and had the ball with less than 20 seconds left before it all fell apart.
“We did enough for 47 minutes and changed to put ourselves in a position to win this game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We just couldn’t close it.”
Milwaukee’s winning streak began when Bobby Portis got a steal that led to a 3-pointer from Khris Middleton that got the Bucks in one.
On the ensuing inbound pass, Antetokounmpo forced a through ball against Jimmy Butler.
“I was able to get my hands on the ball, and at the end of the day, when you want to win, things happen,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s just instinct talking.”
The Heat believed Antetokounmpo had made enough contact on the play to warrant a foul call.
“I’m not going to make a big rant about refereeing and all that,” Spoelstra said. “I’m just shocked. I’m shocked that Jimmy didn’t foul as we tried to get in. We certainly had other chances to be able to close out the game, especially when there were four of us. That’s just the way it goes. I haven’t watched that. I just can’t imagine from my perspective how it wasn’t a foul.
Antetokounmpo won the tip and gave it to Bobby Portis. The Bucks didn’t call a timeout and instead got the ball Holiday, who made his way to the other end of the field and made the winning basket.
“He’s so good at getting into the paint and creating and finishing,” said Middleton, who scored 26 points. “At that time we said there would be no downtime so whoever got it, who we knew would be Jrue with the tip, the way we were lined up, give Just give him some space and let him create. He did a great job of getting his head in the basket and making a big layup for us to take the win.”
The Heat were out of timeouts and Tyler Herro missed a desperate 3-point attempt at the buzzer. It was a disappointing end to a spectacular night from Herro, who scored 30 points and shot 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Gabe Vincent had 21, Bam Adebayo 18, Duncan Robinson 15 and Caleb Martin 12 for the Heat. Bobby Portis scored 15 for the Bucks.
Miami seemed to have the game in hand when it took a 113-99 lead with a 9-0 run that included two 3-pointers from Vincent and one from Herro.
But the Bucks wouldn’t go and eventually stole the win in the dying seconds.
Heat: Miami played its 35th road game on Wednesday and hits the road again to face Brooklyn on Thursday. The Heat have played the most road games of any NBA team. After the trip to Brooklyn, the Heat will be home for 11 of their next 12 games. … Kyle Lowry missed a second straight game for personal reasons.
Bucks: Mike Budenholzer won his 200th win as Bucks coach. He’s 200-90 in four seasons in Milwaukee and 413-287 in nine seasons overall.
Heat: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. The Heat are 2-0 against the Nets this season after winning 106-93 at Brooklyn on Oct. 27 and 115-111 at Miami on Feb. 12.
Bucks: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday in their first road game since Feb. 10. In their only previous game this season, the Bucks beat the Bulls 94-90 on Jan. 21 in Milwaukee.