MIAMI (REUTERS, AFP) – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his players are glad they are getting a rematch with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night (Dec 30).
On Tuesday night, the Bucks set an National Basketball Association (NBA) record by sinking 29 three-pointers while stomping the Heat 144-97.
“Everyone in our locker room would rather get to this (rematch than endure) a long practice and film session,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t think anybody feels good about (Tuesday’s game). It happened for a reason, and we don’t want to disregard that.”
Spoelstra hinted that the Bucks viewed the game as payback for the Heat eliminating Milwaukee in five games in last season’s Eastern Conference semi-finals.
“It was pretty clear they were playing at a different urgency and intensity level,” Spoelstra said of the Bucks. “It looked like they had been thinking about this game for 80 days.”
The Bucks shot 56.9 per cent from long distance (29 of 51) and got three-pointers from 12 different players.
“Some days, the basketball gods are with you a little bit,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, who didn’t realise his club had set the NBA record for three-pointers until he was told by a reporter following the game. “This was probably just one of those nights for us.”
Indeed, it was the most points ever allowed by the Heat in a home game, and the Bucks produced their biggest margin of victory ever in a road game.
Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 25 points while sinking 4 of 5 3-point attempts. Jrue Holiday contributed 24 points and hit six of 10 from three-point range, and Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points and sank five of six from beyond the arc.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – the NBA’s two-time reigning Most Valuable Player – had a rather easy night, playing 24 minutes and providing nine points, six assists and six rebounds. He was the only Bucks player in the game who did not hit a three-pointer from two attempts, and his streak of 132 consecutive games (regular season and post-season) with double-figure points ended.
Miami, playing without Jimmy Butler (sprained right ankle), got 23 points and seven assists from Tyler Herro.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers also rebounded from a big defeat.
Two days after a 124-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-101.
Lou Williams scored 20 points off the bench to lead seven Clippers players who scored in double figures.
“We knew coming tonight we had to do better,” said Clippers centre Serge Ibaka, who scored 16 points. “We had to be aggressive, just play team basketball.”
The Philadelphia 76ers, coming off a lopsided loss to Cleveland, beat the Toronto Raptors 100-93.
Centre Joel Embiid, who sat out Sunday’s 24-point loss to the Cavaliers with a tight back, led the Sixers with 29 points and 16 rebounds.
Elsewhere, Julius Randle posted a triple-double of 28 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the New York Knicks to a 95-86 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But Russell Westbrook’s triple-double of 21 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists – his third in as many appearances in the young season – again went for nothing as his Washington Wizards fell 115-107 to the Chicago Bulls.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 23 points, and Wendell Carter Jr added a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds as Chicago notched their first win of the season.
Denver centre Nikola Jokic also had a triple-double in a losing effort, his 26 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists not enough in the Nuggets’ 125-115 loss to the Sacramento Kings – who were led by the 24 points of De’Aaron Fox.
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