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Heat win third in a row against reeling Bucks

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Miami won their third game in a row for the first time this season against the suddenly struggling Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s starting backcourt combined for 58 points as the Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 109-97 on Saturday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami.

First Quarter

Dion Waiters came out with guns blazing, lighting up the Bucks for 10 points in the first quarter on three-of-five shooting, including one-of-two from outside and three-of-six from the line. Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the only player to spend all 12 minutes on the floor, and put up eight on three-of-five shooting, with two free throws, two rebounds and an assist.

James Johnson dished out three assists in six minutes, and Hassan Whiteside and John Henson each pulled down four rebounds. Meanwhile, Miami’s other three starters, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt, and Goran Dragic, each went 0-for-two from the floor.

The quarter ended with Miami holding on to a 25-22 lead that they wouldn’t again relinquish. Their three-point lead was accomplished despite draining just one-of-eight shots from three-point distance through the first 12 minutes. and getting outshot by the Bucks by nearly two percentage points. The Bucks led for a few minutes, actually extending the lead out two six on two occasions before the Heat caught up, passed them, and eventually pulled away.

Second Quarter

Dion Waiters scored 10 points in the second quarter, just like in the first. He made two-of-three shots from three-point distance and two-point distance, and made seven-of-11 overall through the first half for a game-high 20 points. Small forward Tony Snell was the only Buck to play all 12 minutes, but he scored zero points on zero shots, with two rebounds and a turnover.

Goran Dragic started to heat up a little bit, making three-of-three from the field, including one-of-one from outside, three assists, and a total of 12 points through the half. Hassan Whiteside drained all five of his shots in the opening half of play, going to the locker room with a team-third 10 points and eight rebounds. Wayne Ellington scored nine points on four-of-seven shooting to augment Miami’s attack. James Johnson was the only other Heat player to hit the locker room with any points, with two on one-of-five shooting, while Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt, Okaro White, and Willie Reed were held scoreless in a combined 41:45.

The half closed with the Heat ahead by a 53-43 score, as their lead vacilitated from one point all the way to 12, just before halftime. Miami made 57.1% of their shots (12-of-21) through the frame, to 40.9% of Milwaukee’s (nine-for-22).

Third Quarter

Dion Waiters was the only player to appear for all 12 minutes through the third quarter, but for the first time in the game he did not put up double digits. He scored seven on three-of-five shooting, with a rebound, an assist, and a steal. Rodney McGruder kicked in with six points and three assists, while Luke Babbitt and Goran Dragic scored five each.

The Bucks were led in the quarter by the Freak, who made three-of-four shots overall and two-of-three from deep to total nine. Tony Snell scored seven, going a perfect two-of-two from the field (including a three-pointer) and from the line, and John Henson scored five.

It always seemed like the Bucks were on the verge of turning a corner and mounting a comeback, especially in the third quarter, but they never turned the trick, and were outscored, 29-28 through the period. The Heat entered the fourth quarter with a nine-percentage point edge in field goal percentage, with a 31-of-59 (52.5%) to 25-of-57 (43.9%) edge. Miami’s lead fluctuated between six and 14 through the frame.

Fourth Quarter

The Heat outscored the Bucks, 27-to-26 through the fourth quarter, and outscored the Bucks in every quarter through the game. Goran Dragic led the way with eight points, and was matched across the court by Jabari Parker. Both players made three-of-five shots from the field, although Dragic had a three pointer, and Parker did not.

Six players played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, with three from the Heat (Dragic, Ellington, and Johnson) and three from the Bucks (Dellavedova, Brogdon, and Parker) turning the trick.

Five Stars

Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic earned the first two stars of the game, backed up by Hassan Whiteside’s 29th appearance in the countdown, with the fourth star. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo (third star) and Matthew Dellavedova (fifth star) represented. Follow the link for more.

I’m not sure the Heat will have such an easy time of it in their final game of their four-game homestand on Monday night, when they’ll host the defending Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors. If they’re gonna turn it around, somehow, it has to start as soon as possible.