LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Miami Heat completed a superb second-half comeback to spoil Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks’ home opener on Saturday with a 131-126 overtime victory.
Reigning National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo led the scoring with 29 points, including a magical buzzer-beating tip-in to force overtime, but was unable to thwart Miami’s victory charge.
The Heat, missing star Jimmy Butler, had trailed by 21 points in the third quarter but exploded to overwhelm the Bucks down the stretch, outscoring the home team by 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Goran Dragic led the Miami scoring with 25 points from the bench while Bam Adebayo weighed in with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Kendrick Nunn added 18 points while four other Miami players finished with double digit tallies.
Antetokounmpo delivered a highlight reel moment with his improvised tip-in to tie it up at 121-121.
Down by two with three seconds remaining, the Bucks inbounded to Khris Middleton who launched a long-range effort from the perimeter.
With the shot falling short, Antetokounmpo collected in mid-air and dropped the ball into the basket to force overtime.
However, the Heat proved the stronger in overtime, outscoring the Bucks 10-5 to close out the win.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra praised the “guts and perseverance” of his team’s second half fightback following the win.
“We did it the hard way but so what?” Spoelstra said. “It’s never easy on the road against a team like the Bucks.”
“Guys made some big-time plays in the second half. The intensity and urgency went up a level at the start of the third quarter.
“If you want to beat one of these teams on their home floor you have to play a lot harder than we did in the first half. And we did, it was one inspiring play after another.”
Butler missed Wednesday’s season-opening win as well after his girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl. The Heat were also missing power forward James Johnson and shooting guard Dion Waiters.