Bogut leads Bucks past sliding Heat again, 97-81

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MIAMI (AP)—Milwaukee’s first 10 shots were all off the mark. Good thing, or else the Bucks would have made a long night even worse for the fast-fading Miami Heat.

Andrew Bogut(notes) had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Carlos Delfino(notes) finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds and the Bucks beat Miami for the second time in three nights, 97-81 Monday to climb within two games of the Heat for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

“We definitely have a chance to make the playoffs but it will come down to every game,” Bogut said. “Every game is important. Winning these two games is huge.”

Charlie Bell(notes) and Hakim Warrick(notes) each scored 12 for the Bucks, who outscored Miami 54-27 over the final 19 1/2 minutes of the first half to take control.

Dwyane Wade(notes) led the Heat with 23 points, including single-handedly scoring the first 11 of the game. From there, the Heat went shockingly cold, setting season-worsts by shooting 17.6 percent in the first quarter and 27.5 percent in the half.

Miami finished shooting 36.4 percent, its third-worst effort of the season.

“Needless to say, that was a very tough evening for us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re going through a little bit of a funk right now as a team. It’s a trying time. A lot of teams have gone through this. This is not what we wanted to do right now, but we’re here and have to respond and have to help each other get out of this.”

Michael Beasley(notes) scored 16 and Udonis Haslem(notes) finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which has lost four of its past five and plays only one more home game in the next three weeks.

“I think we’re going to bounce back,” Beasley said. “We’ve got a tough road trip, but like all year, we respond well in times like this.”

The Bucks used a dominant second quarter to take full control on the way to downing Miami 95-84 in Milwaukee on Saturday night. They didn’t even wait that long to seize the upper hand in this one.

Wade needed only 4:25 to score the first 11 points, seven of those from the foul line as Miami ran out to its best start of the season.

Then, thud.

Even with Wade’s early heroics, the lead didn’t last long. After the Bucks’ putrid start, they shot 19 for 30 heading into the break.

“Defense started it,” Warrick said. “We got some easy buckets and were able to continue to build on it.”

Bogut’s line alone basically told the story for Milwaukee, which improved to 11-1 since the start of last season when the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft gets at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“He’s had a lot of performances where he looks like an All-Star-caliber-type center,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “The problems he’s had over the years but not as much this year is inconsistency. He’s becoming more consistent.”

The Heat, they’re consistently inconsistent. Now back to .500 at 24-24, it’s really the wrong time for Miami to be sliding, too, since a daunting stretch of the season has arrived.

Miami plays eight of its next nine on the road, with five games before the All-Star break. Of those, four are away against teams ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings: Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Atlanta.

Then after the break, Miami opens with games at Philadelphia, New Jersey, Memphis and Dallas in a five-night span.

“There’s no secret that our schedule before the All-Star break is probably as tough as it gets, pretty much,” Wade said. “So you can’t really think ahead too much. We know that for us to be where we want to be … the position where we’ve been in all year, where we’re in the fifth seed, we’ve got to take care of business.”

That didn’t happen on Monday.

Miami got within 59-49 in the third quarter, before the Bucks connected for 3-pointers on three straight possessions—the last two by Bell—to push the lead back to 17, and one of the smaller Heat home crowds of the season was left eerily silent for the remainder of the evening.

“It’s never as bad as it seems right now,” Spoelstra said. “But we do need to do some soul-searching and figure out how we can get out of this before All-Star break.”

NOTES: Beasley played with a large, bulky knee brace protecting his hyperextended right knee. “A robot,” he said. … The Heat were without starting center Jermaine O’Neal(notes) (back spasms). … The Bucks improved to 9-7 since the calendar flipped to 2010.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Milwaukee
A. Bogut Andrew Bogut
10-13,  22 Pts
11 Rebs, 1 Assists
 Miami
D. Wade Dwyane Wade
7-19,  23 Pts
1 Rebs, 6 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

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Monday, Feb 1