Until Friday, Chris Bosh had drifted into the periphery. Before Milwaukee, the winning streak felt more like a Dynamic Duo collaboration than a Big 3 production.
After watching LeBron James and Dwyane Wade carry the Heat through most of its magical run, Bosh finally decided to take his turn as a leading man.
The Heat’s power forward had 28 points in the Heat’s 107-94 victory against the Bucks at BMO Bradley Center and Miami extended its winning streak to 21 games. The streak now stands alone as the third-longest in NBA history. The Heat (50-14) trails only the 2007-08 Houston Rockets (22) and 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33) on the all-time list of longest winning streaks in the NBA.
Miami can match the Rockets on Sunday with a victory in Toronto. The Heat’s winning streak started in Toronto on Feb.3.
Never miss a local story.
Bosh was still playing aggressive defense with under three minutes to play and the game well in hand. He ripped a rebound away from Bucks forward Larry Sanders for his seventh and final board of the game.
Moments later, Sanders was ejected from the game for arguing a call. Like Sanders, the Bucks as a whole lost its collective cool in the final minutes against the defending champions.
Milwaukee (32-32), eighth in the Eastern Conference standings and possible first-round playoff opponent for Miami, cut the Heat’s lead to six points with less than eight minutes to play. Shane Battier ended the Bucks’ fourth-quarter surge with a three-pointer and the Heat went ahead by 14 points on a three-pointer by Norris Cole with 5:31 remaining.
The Heat’s winning streak received its second major injury scare in the first half when Dwyane Wade collided with Sanders under the basket.
Wade smacked the back of his head on the court during the fall and was taken to the locker room for evaluations. He reentered the game in the second quarter.
Wade, who finished with 20 points, scored his final basket on a dunk with two minutes to play. The field goal helped Wade extended his streak of scoring at least 20 points, but Wade later missed a jump shot to knock his shooting percentage below 50 percent. Entering Friday, Wade had scored at least 20 points and shot at least 50 percent in 11 straight games. The obscure statistic matched a run by Michael Jordan during the 1995-96 season.
Bosh went 12 of 16 from the field and had 13 points in the third quarter. He has scored more than 30 points just twice this season. He was two of three from the three-point line and converted a four-point play in the third quarter to give the Heat a 67-53 lead.
The Heat took a 15-point lead with two minutes left in the third quarter when Wade and James connected for an alley-oop in transition. The play was one of several outrageous dunking highlights during the game.
• With 9:06 left in the third quarter, James sent a long pass to Mario Chalmers in transition that Chalmers slap-passed to Wade for a dunk.
• James one-handed reverse dunk across the baseline on Bucks forward John Henson with 9:42 left in the second quarter gave the Heat a 34-29 lead.
• A two-handed dunk by James after a spin move past Ersan Ilyasova nearly ripped the rim off the stanchion.
James finished the game with 28 points, 10 rebound and seven assists. It was James’ 30th double-double of the season, which matched his career high for a single season.
Battier had nine points off the bench and Ray Allen and Chalmers each had seven points. Ilyasova led the Bucks with 26 points and guard Brandon Jennings had 21 points.
The Heat’s defense held the Bucks to 37.1 percent shooting. Monta Ellis was three of 11 for seven points. Ekpe Udoh was 1 of 6 from the field. Sanders was 2 of 9.