Hassan Whiteside put together a dominant 19-point performance off the bench in the first half but was somehow a non-factor offensively in the second half. Despite that, the Heat trailed right off the bat 7-0 and spent most of the first two quarters playing from behind. Milwaukee's length and nimble footwork successfully kept Miami out of the paint with a mix of 1-2-2 zone and man-to-man defense.
Thanks almost entirely to Whiteside's herculean efforts however, Miami began chipping away at the lead and starting getting baskets inside while the team began to gel offensively. A 15-5 run midway through second quarter managed to erase a 10-point Bucks lead to tie it at 41-41 for the first time. The home team punished the Heat with 36 points in the paint in the first half but excellent performances by rookie Josh Richardson, particularly from long range along with his customary excellent defense, along with Luol Deng kept it competitive entering the third quarter.
Miami finally broke through with their first lead after a 8-0 run made it 74-73 with four minutes left in the quarter. Deng scored 11 points to help power a 20-6 run near the end of the third quarter seemingly put the Heat in the driver's seat, considering they entered the game winning 10 consecutive times when leading at the start of the final quarter.
Led by the ultra-athletic trio of Jabari Parker (23 points), Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds) and Khris Middleton (22 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds), the Bucks had other plans and took control of the fourth quarter. They came back to tie it at 89-89 and then managed to score six straight points without giving up possession after the Heat failed to secure a rebound after a missed free throw which led to a flagrant foul and two subsequent free throws and a made basket. A 12-3 run made it 97-92 and the Heat would not be able to mount a comeback during crunch time to reverse the momentum.
Whiteside finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, Deng had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Wade scored 18 points and Richardson had 14 points. In his first loss with Miami, Joe Johnson scored 11 points on 5-9 shooting and didn't have as big of an impact as he did during the win streak. Both teams shot 42-80 (52.5%) from the field but the Bucks made all the right plays on both ends of the court down the stretch to secure the victory.
The Heat, looking to start a new win streak, next face the Chicago Bulls on the road at 8:00pm on Friday.