January 20, 2016 / 5:28 AM / 3 years ago

Middleton boosts Bucks past Heat

(The Sports Xchange) - Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton scored 22 points — 20 more than Dwyane Wade — in the Bucks’ 91-79 victory over Miami on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Jan 19, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) dribbles the ball against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Middleton’s presence helped Greg Monroe, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (14 points).

The Bucks have won five straight against the Heat, sweeping all four games last season. There is no doubt the Bucks’ height advantage — they start a 6 feet, 6 inch point guard, two 6-8 wings and two 6-11 players — gives Miami trouble.

“Khris is able to impact the game in several ways,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “He is able to score and create shots for others, making passes out of the double team.”

Miami were without their top two point guards because of injuries — Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih. That forced Wade to play more point guard along with emergency starter Tyler Johnson.

“I don’t like it,” Wade said of playing the point. “Tyler is doing the best he can, but he is not a typical point guard.

“At the right times, I’m cool with playing the one (point) as long as we run the offense and the ball finds me back somewhere. But it’s frustrating when the ball doesn’t move back around.”

Middleton praised the Bucks’ defense, which held Miami to 36.5 percent shooting from the floor.

“We challenged every shot,” Middleton said. “We tried to make it difficult on them. Once we did that, we were dangerous on the other end.”

Milwaukee (19-25) are 6-4 in January after winning their third straight game, following losing months in November (7-9) and December (6-10).

Miami (23-19), led by forward Chris Bosh’s 23 points, lost their second straight game. Miami center Hassan Whiteside added 23 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, but the Heat are 6-8 at home against Eastern Conference teams this season.

Wade, playing with two sore shoulders, scored two points one one-of-6 shooting. Johnson scored three points on 0-of-6 shooting. The two combined for eight turnovers and minus-33.

“We don’t want to make excuses,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the injuries. “That’s not even in our mindset.”

Another injured Heat player was Gerald Green, who played despite right knee tendinitis. Green was held to six points on two-of-10 shooting.

This was Miami’s first home game after a 2-4 road trip. After Tuesday, the Heat leave again, this time for a five-game trip, and do not play in the same city in consecutive games during a month-plus span.

Perhaps that strain was felt in the first half as Miami trailed early. Milwaukee led 19-18 after the first quarter and 49-39 at halftime.

Things got even better for Milwaukee in the third quarter as the Bucks went on an 18-2 run. Milwaukee led 75-57 after three quarters.

Miami failed to challenge in the fourth quarter, falling to 8-10 in their past 18 games.

“We saw the same thing you saw — a pretty flat performance,” Spoelstra said.

Bosh said the Heat took too many quick shots.

“We didn’t work their defense,” Bosh said. “It’s disappointing not living up to our standards.

“With young guys at the guard position, they have to learn. We have to toughen up. It’s not going to come from an outside source.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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