MILWAUKEE -- With 7:14 left in the third quarter, the arena went to break for a TV timeout and the fans in the building looked up at the JumboTron to watch a video.
This is where the Bucks went horribly wrong.
In the video — a “fan on the street” type production — several Milwaukeeans described the Heat’s best player — the best basketball player on Earth, actually — as “Queen James.” Yep, big mistake.
The Bucks led 61-55 when its in-arena video wizards decided to question James’ manhood. From there, the Heat outscored Milwaukee 49-30 and went on to win Game 3 of this best-of-7, first-round series 104-91 at Bradley Center. Up 3-0, the Heat can sweep the series Sunday.
“If we come in with the same mind-set or even more desperation than we did today then we give ourselves a good chance to win,” James said.
This was the game the Bucks wanted badly, and they played well in the beginning, but, just as it did in Games 1 and 2, the Heat took over when it was time to get serious. Miami put Game 2 away with a 12-0 run to begin the third quarter, and on Thursday, the Heat put the game away with a 15-1 run spanning the end of the third period and the beginning of the fourth.
The bulk of the run came with James directing the Heat’s four second-rotation reserves: Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Ray Allen. As if they’ve played together for years, Andersen and James once again provided the key second-half spark. Allen and Cole did the rest from behind the arc.
“Defensively, we got stops,” James said, “and we didn’t foul late in the third quarter and offensively we executed. …We were able to stretch that lead out.”
James went inside for a hard-earned layup with 32.7 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Heat ahead 76-68. On the Heat’s next possession, he went inside to Andersen, who finished the play with a dunk. Andersen finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 14 minutes. He is shooting 13 of 15 (86.6 percent) in the series.
James had 22 points, five rebounds and six assists and went 9 of 14 from the field but for the second straight game, wasn’t the Heat’s leading scorer. Dwyane Wade led the Heat in Game 2, and Ray Allen was the points leader in Game 3, scoring 23 off the bench in about 30 minutes.
“We’ve got so many guys sitting on the bench that are so productive,” Allen said. “It’s a great testament to this team and how we’ve grown from Day One to now.”
Allen was 8 of 14 from the field and 5 of 8 from three-point range, making a series of backbreaking baskets in crunch time. His five three-pointers put him ahead of Reggie Miller for the all-time postseason record in NBA history. He now has 322 postseason three-pointers in his career.
“I think about all the guys that came before me,” Allen said. “There were so many great players and great shooters and great athletes in general, and I’ve been able to leave my mark.”
With the game in hand, Allen drained a three-pointer with 8:35 left and James started jumping out of his chair and screaming at the top of his lungs. He said a few things in celebration, too, but most can’t be printed in a newspaper.
“I knew he needed one more to break the record, and I was very excited for him,” said James, who finished with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists.