EditorsNote: Update 1: Added Wade quote
Dwyane Wade made a triumphant return to the Miami Heat after a 21-month absence, helping his original franchise to a 91-85 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Wade did not put up big numbers — three points, two rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 22 minutes off the bench - but he provided an emotional lift that was needed by Miami to end its slump.
The home crowd gave Wade a roaring standing ovation when he entered the game midway through the first quarter.
“Great energy in the building,” Wade told reporters postgame. “When I went out to warm up, it was definitely a playoff atmosphere. ... The crowd was amazing. I missed this crowd.”
Tyler Johnson scored a team-high 19 points as Miami snapped a five-game losing streak. Heat center Hassan Whiteside added 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, and rookie Bam Adebayo had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee, led by All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 23 points and 11 rebounds, had its three-game win streak snapped. Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe added 19 points.
However, Antetokounmpo was held to 8-of-21 shooting. He shot just 3-of-14 through three quarters, when the Heat built an 18-point lead.
The Wade-Heat divorce after the 2015-2016 season featured bitter feelings on both sides. Wade felt the Heat did not prioritize him in free agency and ultimately bolted to the Chicago Bulls.
On Thursday, the Heat sent a second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers, bringing Wade back to the franchise that drafted him and the city in which he won three NBA titles in 13 seasons.
Early on, though, it was all Milwaukee, as the Bucks got off to a fast start at 9-0. But Wade, who entered the game with 5:19 left in the first quarter, gave Miami some juice.
Wade got a rebound on his first defensive possession and set up Whiteside for an alley-oop on his first offensive possession. Wade also had a block and a 3-pointer in the first period, as Miami cut its deficit to 23-19.
Milwaukee maintained its four-point lead, taking a 46-42 advantage into halftime. Wade missed all three of his second-quarter shots and was minus-seven at the half. As a team, Miami shot just 34.9 percent in the first half. Milwaukee shot 44.7 percent.
Miami surged ahead in the third quarter, using a 13-0 run to take a 72-54 lead. Miami outscored the Bucks 30-8 in the third quarter, holding Milwaukee to 23.5 percent shooting.
The Bucks, who cut their deficit to 85-81 on a 3-pointer by Bledsoe with 54 seconds remaining, couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to comeback.
—Field Level Media