EditorsNote: changes to “nine rebounds” in second graf; updates to “(ankle)” in ninth graf
Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 116-87 win over the visiting Miami Heat on Friday night.
Miami, which was led by Hassan Whiteside’s 14 points, nine rebounds and a game-high three blocks, had closed its deficit to 63-58 early in the third quarter before falling apart.
Antetokounmpo had missed the previous two games due to an ankle injury. In the game before he sat out, he scored a season-high 52 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. Against Miami, he made 12 of 19 shots from the floor.
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton nearly had a triple-double with 18 points, a game-high 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Miami had its three-game win streak broken.
The Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 54-19. Their 29-6 home record is the best in the Eastern Conference.
Heat point guard Justise Winslow, who is fourth on the team in scoring (12.7 points per game) and leads Miami in assists (4.3 game), missed his second straight game due to a bruised right thigh.
Miami was also without wing Rodney McGruder (knee soreness). McGruder is 12th on the Heat in scoring (7.9) but is a glue-type player defensively.
The Bucks, meanwhile, competed without several players, including guards Malcolm Brogdon (foot) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel) as well as post players Pau Gasol (ankle) and Nikola Mirotic (thumb).
However, the Bucks got guards George Hill (groin) and Sterling Brown (wrist) off the injured list. Hill scored eight points, and Brown added four points.
Friday’s game was a rematch of the contest played last week, when Miami led by 20 points at halftime but Milwaukee rallied to win 113-98.
Antetokounmpo scored 33 points in that game and finished one assist short of a triple-double, and the Bucks tied the franchise record for biggest second-half comeback.
Before last week, the Bucks were 0-77 all-time when trailing by 20 points or more on the road at halftime.
On Friday, the Bucks led 33-32 after one quarter as Antetokounmpo scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Milwaukee stretched its lead to 63-51 at halftime as Antetokounmpo had 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting. He gave Bucks fans a huge scare when he hit the deck in the second quarter, but he got back up and returned to action.
Milwaukee shot 57.1 percent in the first half, including 9 of 17 on three-pointers (52.9 percent). Miami shot just 43.2 percent.
By the end of the third quarter, Milwaukee had a comfortable 94-69 lead, and the Bucks cruised from there. Overall, Miami outshot Milwaukee from the floor 50.6 percent to 37.6 percent.
—Field Level Media