With 1 minute, 7 seconds remaining in the second quarter Saturday, Miami Heat swingman Justise Winslow threw down a spinning, full-extension, one-handed alley-oop.
The crowd roared. The lead, over Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee, reached 20.
And then the second half happened.
Winslow had made his last basket. The Heat went ice cold. The third quarter ended 37-18, Miami's once-mighty lead down to a single point.
The fourth proved more repeat than reprieve: 34-18 again, with Kia MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo dropping 11 points, six rebounds and three assists to seal an astounding comeback. The 113-98 Bucks victory was literally unprecedented.
Never.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 16, 2019
That's the last time an NBA team was down by 20 or more at the half and won by at least 15.
Until tonight. Giannis and the Bucks did it.
The Heat entered the game having won five of six to pass both Orlando and Charlotte to claim eighth playoff spot in the East, lending the matchup something of a playoff milieu. They exited it with a look at exactly how wide the gap is between the first and final playoff spots.
Much of it has to do with a 6-foot-11 playmaker who can drop dimes like this on the way to a final line of 33 points (12-19 FGs), 16 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and three blocks:
“It doesn’t matter if you’re down 20, 15, 10,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’re going to keep playing hard. It’s a process. You’ve got to win games like this. You’ve got to face adversity when you’re playing on the road. In the playoffs, it’s not going to be easy. We want to be a great team and that’s why we keep playing hard.”
At least, postgame, Dwyane Wade's #OneLastDance jersey exchange took a heartening turn, as he connected with Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who has been working his way back from a scary spinal injury in 2017.
The two-time Pro Bowl linebacker had reached out to Wade via Twitter with a message expressing his admiration of the NBA star, and Wade invited him out to make the dream a reality.
Made it happen! pic.twitter.com/8esWKYCtt0— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 16, 2019
Yer outta here!
An NBA rarity occurred during the third quarter of the LA Clippers 128-121 win against the Chicago Bulls – head coaches Doc Rivers and Jim Boylen were simultaneously ejected with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
The trigger for all the drama was a screen by Montrezl Harrell, immediately whistled as an offensive foul. That led to emphatic agreement by Boylen, most notable in some vigorous clapping, and an exchange of words with Rivers. And then a few more. And a few more and ... here's the official ruling:
Transcript: NBA Referee Jason Phillips Comments to Pool Reporter after Bulls - Clippers Game pic.twitter.com/tIvirEA9Bl— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) March 16, 2019
After the game, Boylen said that he felt the Clippers "went after [his] second PG and [he] didn't appreciate it." Rivers said he told Boylen in response that "Maybe [he] should turn to his players and tell them to call out screens."
The season series is now complete, with the Clippers taking both games. But don't be surprised if the Clippers' screening – fairly or not – causes a flare during the always-at-11 intensity of the postseason. These type of incidents tend to linger in the collective mind. One to track.
Blake Griffin, v3.0
The Pistons have been among the league's hottest teams coming out of the All-Star break, and Blake Griffin has continued to provide a foundational piece, averaging 24.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists.
He's also greatly improved both his ballhandling and 3-point shooting in recent seasons, firing away a career-high 6.8 attempts from behind-the-arc – up from 1.9 two years ago and 0.5 in 2015-16 – along with a career-high 29.4 percent of his shots coming after 3-6 dribbles (vs. 18.2 percent in '16-17).
In Saturday's 111-97 romp against the Lakers, both were on display in one vicious highlight.
Stat of the Night
Damian Lillard is now No. 2 on Portland's all-time scoring list, passing LaMarcus Aldridge with a pullup 3 toward the end of the first half.
Clyde Drexler leads the chart with 18,040, about a 3-to-4-year pace for Lillard from his perch of 12,584. "I'll get him," Lillard said, postgame. "I'll get him."
The sunburn game
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl took an all-too-relatable L, getting literally roasted after falling asleep in the sun.
Jakob Poeltl fell asleep in the sun. Overshadowing tip off for Knicks v Spurs. pic.twitter.com/ntFwwh7ThE— Jeff Dickinson-Fox (@JeffDFox) March 16, 2019
He pulled together to tally 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocks as San Antonio rocked the Knicks, 109-83. Poeltl did apparently throw on a T-shirt underneath the jersey for the second half. Gotta watch that chafe.
Don't buy the fake
Joel Embiid has wondered why defenders keep biting on his pump fake, given his 28.9 percent 3-point shooting on 3.9 attempts per game.
And yet, again:
Embiid finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and four blocks in a 123-114 victory over the Sacramento Kings. All five Philadelphia starters scored at least 19 points, and the Sixers rose to third on the East via tiebreaker. Both the Sixers and Pacers are up two games on fifth-place Boston.
RoLo vs. the (Mascot) World
Robin Lopez's ongoing war with mascots leaguewide continued out in Los Angeles, with Chuck the Condor taking an L.