Bucks burn Heat despite Wade’s return
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin - The Associated Press / Reuters
Superstar forward LeBron James (L) scored 26 points, but his efforts were not able to save the Miami Heat from a defeat by the Bucks. REUTERS Photohe Milwaukee Bucks stunned the Miami Heat with a fourth-quarter blitz on Dec. 29 to record a 104-85 blowout win over the NBA champions.
With the Heat leading 71-69 entering the final period, the Bucks (16-12) kicked into high gear and outscored Miami 35-14 to blow them off the floor in the last quarter.
Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, Mike Dunleavy scored 13 of his 18 in the fourth and Milwaukee forced Miami into errors and turnovers. It was Miami’s second successive loss.
Turkish forward Ersan İlyasova had six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.
“It was good to win a game like this against the defending champs,” Milwaukee’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute told reporters. “We’ve got to enjoy this one and continue to go at it. We needed to win a couple of games in a row at home.”
Heat guard Dwyane Wade returned from his one-game suspension for kicking Charlotte’s Ramon Sessions and scored 24 points, while LeBron James added 26 points.
Milwaukee had jumped out to a 56-44 halftime lead but gave the advantage back in the third where James took over and the Heat outscored them 27-13 in the quarter.
James had 14 in the third to pull his team back in the game.
Everything changed in the fourth, however, as Larry Sanders and Moute both produced two blocks each in the first few minutes to fuel a stirring run for the home side.
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd, the Bucks scored the first nine points of the fourth and never looked back.
“It’s always been tough for us to play them,” Wade said. “It’s always a battle. They did their job and used their energy in the fourth quarter. They took a lead, and we couldn’t come back.”
Moute finished with 19 points and Sanders had 16 and 11 rebounds.
It was a rare off night for the Heat who just missed tying their season-low point total of 84 and got little help from their supporting cast.
Both James and Wade made more than half of their field goal attempts and Chris Bosh, who had 12 points, was the only other player to reach double figures.
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 26 as the Oklahoma City Thunder built a big lead in the second quarter and rolled to a 124-94 win over the Houston Rockets.
It was Oklahoma City’s second win this season over Houston, after taking the first meeting 120-98.
Durant scored 11 points during a 16-0 run by the Thunder to end the first half to extend the lead to 18.
Oklahoma City had another big run early in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach.
Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 25 for the Rockets, who went cold on offense for long stretches.
In Atlanta, Lou Williams’ 21 points and a career-high 12 assists led the Atlanta Hawks to a 109-100 over the Indiana Pacers.
Al Horford added 20 points to make it four straight wins for the Hawks.
David West scored a game-high 29 points for the Pacers, who had won four straight and seven of eight.
Bobcats lose again
The luckless Charlotte Bobcats extended their losing streak to 18 games after a 98-95 loss to the New Orleans Hornets in Charlotte.
Eric Gordon had 24 points and seven assists to help the Hornets overcome a 21-point first-half deficit and keep the Bobcats winless since Nov. 24.
In Minneapolis, Nikola Pekovic had 28 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Love added 23 points and 18 boards to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 111-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Andrei Kirilenko added 20 points and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were missing guard Ricky Rubio because of back spasms.
In Chicago, Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points and lead the Chicago Bulls to an 87-77 victory over the Washington Wizards.
In other games on Dec. 29, DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points to help the Toronto Raptors to an easy 123-88 victory over the injury-depleted Orlando Magic and Brook Lopez scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-100.