MIAMI (AP) – All the Miami Heat really needed was two brilliant minutes to take a two-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Dwyane Wade scored 21 points, LeBron James finished with 19 and the Miami Heat took off in the fourth quarter to pull away and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 98-86 in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night.
Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen all scored 10 points for the Heat, who now lead the best-of-seven 2-0. Game 3 is Thursday in Milwaukee.
The Heat scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter, needing just over 2 minutes to blow open what had been a three-point game.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which got 16 from Mike Dunleavy and 14 from Larry Sanders. The Bucks’ starting guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, combined for only 15 points.
And an already-daunting task for Milwaukee — beating the reigning NBA champions — just got tougher. James is 10-0 when his teams have a 2-0 series lead, and Wade is 8-0 in that situation.
The first 2:23 of the fourth quarter decided everything. Andersen started it with a three-point play, James had a layup not long afterward and the Heat were starting to roll. Another basket by Andersen off a pass from Ray Allen made it 77-65, and James found Norris Cole for a 3-pointer that capped the flurry and made it 80-65.
Just like that, it was over.
Jennings and Ellis combined for 48 points in Game 1, and the Bucks got blown out. So in the first half of Game 2, they combined for one point, were held to five shots that all missed … and the Bucks were within 47-43 at halftime.
Chances are, very few would have seen that coming.
But play was sloppy from the outset, with the teams combining for eight turnovers in the first 6 minutes to set the tone for a clumsy first half. Wade, James and Chalmers shot 15 for 19 combined in the first half for Miami — and the rest of the Heat were 3 for 17. For Milwaukee, Ilyasova had 12 points in the first 10 minutes, then two points the rest of the half.
So much like in Game 1, Milwaukee came out for the second half with a chance of stealing home-court advantage.
And for the entirety of the third quarter, the Bucks hung around, though the Heat showed some signs of getting things going. Bosh had a dunk for a six-point lead, then made a jumper — on a play that James started by running down a loose ball and flicking it between his legs for a save along the sideline — for a 68-60 lead, what was then the biggest Heat margin of the night.
The Bucks got within 68-65 to end the third, but then came the run that Miami had been waiting for all evening.
Both teams got a big scare with 6:59 left. Battier drove for a layup from the right wing, and Sanders rushed down the middle of the lane to attempt a block. A collision ensued and both players hit the court awkwardly, Battier hitting his head on the hardwood and Sanders — who fell over Battier — grabbing at his right knee after the play.
Battier made the two free throws he was awarded, then was subbed out of the game and departed for the Heat locker room to get stitches on his chin. Sanders was taken out of the game about a minute later, though remained on the Bucks’ bench.
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