Suddenly healthy Heat burn Bucks

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[January 30, 2016]  MILWAUKEE -- It's been a long, long few weeks for the Miami Heat, who have been finding ways to stay afloat without point guard Goran Dragic and forward Josh McRoberts.

So when both returned to head coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation Friday night in Milwaukee, he couldn't help but be pleased.

"We're a no-excuses team," Spoelstra said. "But we're certainly a much better team with them out there."

They certainly were against the Bucks, as Dragic scored 12 points and dished out eight assists in the Heat's 107-103 victory vs. Milwaukee at the Bradley Center.

"It's a great feeling to come back and help your team," Dragic said.

Dragic did most of his offensive damage early, hitting all three of his first quarter shots as the Heat connected on 65 percent of their attempts and took a 33-28 lead.

Spoelsra had planned to limit Dragic's action in his first game back, but the Slovenian wound up playing 31 minutes.

"What I tried to do was stagger his minutes so he wasn't playing past the point of fatigue," Spoelstra said. "Every time I took him out, he asked me 'why?' But while the minutes build up, as long as you're fresh, they can do that for a long period of time."

The move was beneficial in the second half, as Milwaukee made a push coming out of the break.

The Bucks trailed 55-48 at halftime but forward Giannis Antetokounmpo knocked down all five of his shots to score 13 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter. Reserve guard Rashad Vaughn hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to send Milwaukee into the fourth up, 83-81, but the Heat came roaring back behind 10 points from Wade and eight from forward Chris Bosh, who finished with 20 points.

"We started turning the ball over and they had the opportunities to get the momentum back," Spoelstra said. "We showed some toughness down the stretch and got some defensive stops, some big rebounds and we had some physical possessions."

Wade put the dagger in Milwaukee's rally on a long step-back jumper with 45 seconds to play, then sank four of six free throws down the stretch to seal the victory for Miami.

"I came off and as soon as I got a little seam, I shot it off one leg, fading back," Wade said. "I thought it was the best shot I was going to get and it went in."

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Center Greg Monroe added 24 points for Milwaukee, which also got 17 from forward Jabari Parker. The Bucks shot 47.5 percent from the field, but were 2-for-12 from distance and gave up 24 points on 21 turnovers.

"We had great effort in the second half and we did a great job on the defensive end," Antetokounmpo said. "We were running the ball and running transition points. But our effort wasn't enough it was one of those games where you just had to take care of the ball."

Along with Wade, Bosh and Dragic, the Heat also got 16 points from Luol Deng and 12 from center Amar'e Stoudemire, marking the first time since Nov. 17 that all five Miami starters scored in double figures.

"We stuck with it and we've been able to win three in a row," Wade said. "Believing in each other, believing in our game and prepping very well. Now you get healthy bodies back and your confidence back."

NOTES: Miami got F Josh McRoberts back for the first time in nearly two months. He hadn't played since Dec. 7 because of a bone bruise on a knee. McRobers scored 2 points and had a rebound and 2 assists in 16 minutes of action. ... C Hassan Whiteside remained sidelined for a fourth straight game with a strained oblique. Spoelstra said he'd keep F-C Amar'e Stoudemire in the starting lineup until Whiteside returned. ... Bucks SG O.J. Mayo began working out with the team but is still unable to play as he recovers from a sore hamstring. ... Milwaukee had won its last four home games, marking the team's longest home winning streak of the season. ... The Bucks had won five in a row over the Heat. ... SG Dwyane Wade's 24 points marked the third consecutive game that he's led Miami in scoring. He's also scored 10 or more points in the fourth quarter of each of those contests. ... Bucks C Greg Monroe has score 20 points or more in a career-high five consecutive games.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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