The Milwaukee Bucks strung together a lot of runs during Saturday night's 104-85 win over the Miami Heat, but it was the last one that counted the most.
Milwaukee built up a first half 56-44 lead that peaked at 15 points, thanks to runs of 14-7, 13,7 and 12-6. After Miami played their way back into the game with an 11-0 run at the start of the third, the Bucks took a deep breath and rattled off one of their most impressive 15 minute stretches of the season, closing the game on a 42-16 run.
Everything looked great in the first half. The Bucks disrupted the Heat offense (8 points off 10 turnovers), while protecting the ball on their end (3 turnovers, 0 Miami points). They ran early and often (12 fast break points), moved the ball (16 assists), all while containing that overriding urge to hang out in the mid-range area (just 6 of 56 points off mid-range jumpers). Hell, Luc Mbah a Moute had 12 points. LeBron James entered the break with 10.
However, as is often customary when playing a world champion, the Bucks spit up all of that work in barely half a quarter. While preventing Milwaukee from scoring for the first seven minutes of the third, the Heat built up a 9 point lead, showing signs of life after a melancholy first half. However, as is not customary against world champions, the Bucks flipped the switch again, rattling off that spectacular run to hand Miami their second worst loss (by deficit) of the season.
Brandon Jennings (25 pts, 8-16 fg, 2-7 3fg, 7-7 ft, 7 asts, 4 stls, 0 to), Monta Ellis (14 pts, 6-18 fg, 2-4 3fg, 9 asts, 5 stls, 3 rbs, 1 to), and Larry Sanders (16 pts, 8-11 fg, 11 rbs, 4 blks) were replaced by victory cigars with a second over three minutes to play in the fourth, and the BMO Harris Bradley Center obliged with an ovation befitting a team that manhandled an NBA champion for 42 of 48 minutes.
Five Bucks finished in double figures, including defensive savant Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (19 pts, 8-15 fg, 7 rbs, 2 blks), and Mike Dunleavy (18 pts, 5-12 fg, 3-7 3fg, 5-5 ft, 9 rbs, 6 asts). Milwaukee pressured Miami into 21 turnovers, which were subsequently flipped into 25 points the other way. Likewise, the Bucks limited their own mistakes, allowing just two points on six turnovers while dishing out 29 total assists.
Milwaukee also held an advantage in transition scoring (21 vs. 14 fast break points), free throw makes (16 vs. 15), steals (17 vs. 5), three point makes (8 vs. 4) and blocks (8 vs. 5). The Bucks also took 22 more shots than the Heat, and played in front of a sold out crowd that emanated constant energy through good and bad moments.