MIAMI (AP)—Dwyane Wade got his teammates involved early, then took over late.
Wade had five assists in the first quarter, but focused on his scoring later in the game.
“I approached the game differently by coming out and focusing on getting my teammates the ball,” said Wade, who finished with seven assists. “I want to open things up and get my teammates the ball. Then I will start looking for my offense.”
And when he did, the Bucks had few responses.
With short jumpers or drives that ended in dunks or trips to the free throw line, Wade shot 10-of-14 from the field and 15-of-19 from the line.
“Tonight was my best game in a while, but I was most proud of the outcome of the game,” he said.
After blowing double-digit leads in their last two games, the Heat never allowed the Bucks to get any closer than 85-81 after Bobby Simmons’ 3-pointer with 9:14 remaining in the fourth. Wade then keyed a 13-3 spurt with eight points in the next 3:23.
“He’s a talented player and causes a lot of problems,” Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said.
The Heat improved to 6-2 since Pat Riley took over as coach on Dec. 12.
“We came out and took care of business and that’s the sign of a good team, coming out and making adjustments,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said.
Reserve Maurice Williams scored 24 points. Michael Redd scored 21 points but shot 8-of-30 in the Bucks’ two losses in Florida. Milwaukee lost at Orlando on Monday night.
“What I did tonight felt like it wasn’t enough,” Williams said. “You can’t go away feeling good.”
“We had to buckle down, and I thought in the second half, especially in winning time—that period in the fourth quarter—when we had to make stops, we made some tough spots,” Riley said.
Milwaukee point guard T.J. Ford left 4:41 into the game after he was fouled hard by Miami’s James Posey as he drove to the basket. Ford hit the two free throws before leaving for the dressing room. He was diagnosed with a sprained left foot.
Despite Ford’s early departure, Milwaukee shot 60 percent in the first quarter and took a 31-29 lead. The Bucks stretched their lead to 41-34 on Jiri Welsch’s layup with 6:53 left in the second period before the Heat went on a 12-5 run to tie it at 46 on Alonzo Mourning’s two free throws with 2:39 left in the first half.
Ford’s absence forced Williams to play 35 minutes. He finished 10-of-18 from the field.
“My teammates did a great job finding me open,” Williams said. “I just tried to knock them down.”
The Heat will play defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit on Thursday in their first of four meetings this season.
“They are the best team in the league right now,” O’Neal said. “It will be a good measuring stick for us. This is a game where we have to do everything right.”
Milwaukee’s bench outscored the Heat’s reserves 39-21. … The Heat have won seven of the last nine meetings in Miami.