In their most unlikely, and most inspiring, victory so far this season the Miami Heat were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-104 Wednesday night at the FTX Arena largely without their regular starters. With Jimmy Butler returning to the injury list and Bam Adebayo recovering from surgery (and Markieff Morris still out), the Heat would need big contributions to get a win against the very same team that dominated them just a few days ago without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Miami scored just 44 points in the first half, and it was looking like they were in real danger of losing their fourth straight at home. But they subsequently played their most inspired basketball so far this season with the likes of KZ Okpala, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin playing key roles down the stretch to seal the improbable win while starters Duncan Robinson and Dewayne Dedmon — as well as Tyler Herro — looked on. Kyle Lowry (22 points, 13 assists) had another strong game — particularly in the third quarter with 16 points — that was truly needed, but it was also former Bucks player PJ Tucker with perhaps his best game in a Heat uniform with 15 points (5-9 FGs), a career-high eight assists and seven rebounds.
QB1 was dishing out dimes all night (13 assists) and took over in the third quarter with 16 points in the frame (22 total). pic.twitter.com/t6k3CYGywN— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 9, 2021
Herro was ineffective with nine points and seven turnovers in 28 minutes but the team scored 69 points in the second half anyway, including 39 in the fourth quarter boosted by Max Strus’ 16 points. Starting in place of Butler, two-way forward Caleb Martin had an incredible night scoring a career-high 28 points to lead the team, shooting 9-12 from the field with 6-8 3-pt FGs and eight rebounds.
The catalyst of tonight's win.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 9, 2021
Caleb stepped up in his starting role with career-highs of 28 points and 6 3s. pic.twitter.com/aWvYrDQtWs
Another encouraging performance from KZ Okpala also helped matters greatly. He led the team with +23 in 32 minutes off the bench and almost had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds while doing an admirable job limiting Antetokounmpo — who was held to just 15 points.
With so many players stepping up tonight, Miami ended up tying a franchise record with 22 3-pointers made to hand the Bucks their first loss in 12 games playing Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.
The Heat next host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at 8:00pm.