NBA Playoffs: Heat take 3-0 series lead on Bucks; Bulls grab control against Nets
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Miami Heat’s latest spurt might have run the Milwaukee Bucks right out of the playoffs.
LeBron James scored seven of his 22 points at the end of the third quarter as the Heat pulled away from the Bucks. Their 104-91 victory gave them a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and the defending champs can close it out Sunday at the Bradley Center.
No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
Ray Allen led the Heat with 23 points, and his five 3-pointers gave him the NBA career playoff record with 322. Chris Bosh added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who have won 11 straight dating to the regular season. Dwyane Wade scored only four points, but he had 11 assists.
Larry Sanders and Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 16 points each.
The defending champions still haven’t played their best game. But it doesn’t matter, not when they can make one of their patented runs.
After leading for much of the game, Milwaukee was trying to pull away early in the third. Jennings was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws, then followed with a one-hand slam after Ersan Ilyasova’s steal. Luc Mbah a Moute made two sets of free throws, and the Bucks were back up 61-55 with 7:14 left in the third.
But the Heat have made a habit of putting the Bucks away with runs, and this game was no different.
Udonis Haslem made a layup and a pair of free throws, Mario Chalmers followed with a layup and the Heat were off on what would be a 23-7 run to close out the quarter. The Bucks got to 67-66 on a layup by Mbah a Moute, but James answered with a monster 3. After a pair of free throws by Mbah a Moute, Chalmers stripped Monta Ellis and fed James, who sprinted to the other end for the layup as the Bucks watched helplessly. Chris Andersen scored on a layup, James made another field goal and Andersen closed out the quarter with another layup to give Miami a 78-68 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Bucks never got within single digits again.
Bulls 79, Nets 76
CHICAGO (AP) — Every play near the basket looked like a traffic accident. There were long scoreless stretches. Shooting from outside was a dicey proposition.
It was ugly for everyone but the Chicago Bulls. This was their type of game.
Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds, Luol Deng added 21 points and 10 boards, and the Bulls held off the Brooklyn Nets 79-76 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night.
The Bulls had no field goals and two foul shots in the final 5:46 of the game, but still managed to beat the Nets for the second time in the postseason. They will try to grab a 3-1 lead when the series resumes Saturday afternoon.
Brooklyn shot 35 percent for the second straight game. Brook Lopez had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Deron Williams finished with 18 points on 5-for-14 shooting.
Deng led the way as Chicago grabbed control in the third quarter. Deng scored 12 points in the first 4 minutes of the period, seemingly scoring at will against Gerald Wallace as the Bulls turned a seven-point halftime advantage into a 16-point lead.
Brooklyn made one last charge when Lopez had eight points in a 10-2 spurt that trimmed Chicago’s lead to 77-74 with 14.4 seconds left. But Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah each hit a free throw and former Bulls guard C.J. Watson missed a 3 at the buzzer.