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James, Bosh spark Heat past Bucks for 21st win in a row

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- In a possible first-round playoff preview, the Milwaukee Bucks looked to be no match for the red-hot Miami Heat.

Miami won its 21st consecutive game with a 107-94 victory Friday night over the Bucks, who own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, behind 28-point efforts from both LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

The duo combined to go 24 of 40 from the field, pacing a Heat offense that shot 52 percent and made 7-of-15 3-pointers.

"That was a good, tough win," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Our guys brought a great deal of energy and toughness against a team that plays at a high mode.

"I was encouraged by the way the guys responded in terms of what we brought to the game. It was a tough, tough win."

Defensively, the Heat held Milwaukee to 37.1 percent from the field, though the Bucks did hit 9-of-27 3-point attempts and with a 48-41 rebounding edge, outscored Miami, 21-6, on second chance points.

"We had a lot of good looks," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "The last couple games we've had a lot of good looks but the ball's just not dropping for us right now. When you're playing a team like Miami, you need to really come out with a good effort, shooting the ball at a high percentage and doing just about everything well.

"We didn't have enough of that tonight."

Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Brandon Jennings finished with 21 and six assists while both J.J. Reddick and Marquis Daniels added 14 for the Bucks, who have lost three in a row.

"We beat ourselves tonight," Jennings said. "Chris Bosh had a big second half. He just wasn't missing at all. With Lebron and Dwyane, you sometimes forget about Bosh but he reminded us tonight."

Miami played a significant stretch of the first half without Dwyane Wade, who left the game after falling to the floor with 7:17 left in the first quarter. He returned to action with 7:45 left in the half and played the remainder of the game with a strained neck.

"The fall sounded severe," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But it was mainly his tail that came crashing down. It sounded a lot worse than it was ... we had to go a little bit deeper in the rotation but that's what our depth is all about."

Wade finished with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in 33 minutes.

"It was a bang-bang play," Wade said. "I don't remember how it really happened but I hit the ground hard. Luckily, I was able to come back in and play."

The memory of the teams' last meeting was fresh in the Heat's mind. Milwaukee rallied from nine points down early in the fourth quarter for a 104-85 victory back in December.

"Our guys take it to heart," Spoelstra said. "It's not about revenge, it's about playing better, correcting some of the things that ailed us last time we played. Nobody feels good about getting pummeled like we were the last time we played here. We wanted to play well."

Though the Bucks threatened, there would be no comeback this time.

The Heat broke open a tight game with a 10-0 run in the first half and led 51-42 at the break. Miami held Milwaukee to 38.8 percent shooting and made 6-of-7 free throws while the Bucks failed to get to the line.

Milwaukee cut the deficit to eight with three minutes to play in the third, but the Heat regrouped quickly and took an 84-68 into the fourth. A 10-1 run to open the final quarter got Milwaukee within a seven when Redick hit a 3-pointer from the elbow to make the score 85-78. Ilyasova followed with a free throw and Milwaukee was within six with nine minutes to play.

But the Heat responded with a 10-2 run and after Norris Cole's 3-pointer, Miami had a 95-81 lead with 5:31 to play and Milwaukee never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

NOTES: Miami's 21-game winning streak is the longest in franchise history and moves them past the 1970-71 Bucks for the third-longest winning streak in NBA history. ... Marquis Daniels made his first start since Jan. 2. He replaced Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who missed his third consecutive game because of a toe injury. ... The Heat leads the season series, 2-1, with one final meeting scheduled for April 9 in Miami. ... Milwaukee has not attempted a free throw in the first half of its last two games.
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