Miami Heat

Stifling defense, late rally lifts Heat past sharpshooting Bucks for fourth consecutive win

Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) passes the ball against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the first quarter as the Heat host the Milwaukee Bucks at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018.
Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson (0) passes the ball against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the first quarter as the Heat host the Milwaukee Bucks at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. mocner@miamiherald.com

With the Miami Heat in the midst of another close game, James Johnson blocked a Khris Middleton three-point basket, Dwyane Wade came up with the rebound near midcourt and Josh Richardson launched toward the rim for an emphatic dunk.

After watching a 17-point first-half lead disappear and a 16-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle down to just one late, Miami once again found a way to keep its win streak alive.

A stifling defensive effort and a late fourth-quarter rally during a night when the offense struggled was enough for the Heat to walk off its home court with a 94-87 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, its season-best fourth straight victory.

The Heat (15-16) looks to extend the win streak to five games and make it back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 7 when it plays at the Orlando Magic at 6 p.m. Sunday.

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The Bucks, who entered Saturday leading the NBA in both points (117.8) and rebounds (50) per game, finished the game with season-lows in points and shooting percentage (37.3) — a possible by-product of playing in Boston the night before and not getting into Miami until about 4 a.m. Saturday.

The Heat held Milwaukee (22-10) to just 8 points in the first quarter — tying the franchise record for least amount of points scored by an opponent int he opening quarter — but trailed 38-37 at halftime after Milwaukee outscored Miami 20-6 to close out the second quarter. Tony Snell’s three-point basket with 0.9 seconds remaining before intermission gave Milwaukee its first lead since it scored the opening basket 18 seconds into the game. Miami led by as many as 17 in the first half.

Miami, which had a poor shooting night in its own right by making just 36.8 percent of its shots and turning the ball over 12 times, quickly regained the lead in the third quarter on a James Johnson three-pointer was up by 14 at the end of the period. The Bucks cut Miami’s lead down to one point, 82-81, with 2:42 left before the Heat closed the game on a 12-6 run. Wade hit a pair of jumpshots in the middle of that stretch to put the game out of reach.

Richardson scored a team-high 16 points. Wade added 13. Kelly Olynyk, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside each scored 11. Whiteside added 13 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the year.



Giannis Antetokounmpo, who came into Saturday’s game averaging 26.6 points per game, finished with 9 against the Heat and was held without a basket in the first half. Khris Middleton scored a game-high 18 points. Eric Bledsoe added 17.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.


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