Bucks dispatch Heat to clinch top seed in East
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each as the Milwaukee Bucks -- who trailed by 23 in the first half -- rallied to defeat the Miami Heat 130-116 on Thursday afternoon as part of the NBA restart near Orlando.
Antetokounmpo, who picked up his fifth foul with 10:48 left in the fourth, added a game-high 12 rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. Middleton had a team-high eight assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes.
Milwaukee (55-14), which has the best record in the NBA, overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to snap a two-game losing streak and clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Beyond the victory, the good news for the Bucks is that they are fully healthy. On Thursday, the Bucks got Wesley Mathews and center Brook Lopez back from the injured list. In Milwaukee's previous game, on Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets, the Bucks got guards Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton back from injuries.
Meanwhile, the Heat were short-handed on Thursday.
For the second straight game, Miami was without five-time All-Star wing Jimmy Butler (sore right foot). Butler, who leads the Heat in scoring, assists and steals, is hoping to return in time for the playoffs.
Miami was also without point guard Goran Dragic, its leading scorer off the bench. Dragic injured his left ankle toward the end of Miami's win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, and he is day to day.
Without Butler and Dragic, the Heat (43-26) were led by Duncan Robinson's 21 points.
Miami All-Star center Bam Adebayo, slowed by foul trouble, was held to six points, five rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes. But he hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. It was just the fifth three-pointer of his three-year NBA career.
Miami led 34-25 after the first quarter and 73-56 at halftime. The Bucks then opened the third quarter on a 26-8 run and took their first lead of the second half at 82-81 on a Lopez dunk with 5:11 left in the period.
Miami fought back and led 98-92 entering the fourth, but the Bucks were too strong down the stretch, compiling a 20-0 run to take full control.