The Milwaukee Bucks crushed the Miami Heat 94-71 on Saturday for their sixth consecutive victory. The recently acquired guard John Salmons led the way with 18 points as the Bucks, who have beaten the Heat in three games this season, stayed ahead of the hosts in the race for seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
"It's always good to have a tiebreaker against a team that you think is going to be around the same spot as you for a play-off spot," said Scott Skiles, the Bucks' coach. Milwaukee (30-28) had not won six games in a row since 2006. The Bucks led by five at the half, but blew the game open with a 25-12 scoring advantage in the third quarter. "Our defence was very good," Skiles said. "The two newest guys on our team [Salmons and Jerry Stackhouse] have blended right in with the unselfish play."
Stackhouse, signed by the Bucks in January, had 16 points in 25 minutes of playing time. Salmons joined Milwaukee from Chicago as part of a February 18 trade. "The most important thing for us is his size," Skiles said. "We just didn't have that before." The Heat (29-30) drew boos from the home crowd after the loss, their third in a row. "I hope it don't get no worse than this," Michael Beasley, the Miami forward, said. "This feels bad."
The injured All-Star Dwyane Wade missed his fourth successive game for the Heat, who shot poorly with Jermaine O'Neal top-scoring with 14 points. Wade, who has a strained left calf, watched the game from the Heat's bench. His return date is uncertain. Meanwhile, the lowly New Jersey Nets made the most of the Boston Celtics' defensive struggles on Saturday as they shocked the Eastern Conference's third-placed team 104-96.
"Any win for us is big. There's no question," said Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nets' coach, whose team went into the game with a 5-52 win-loss record and had been 2-27 away from home. "But to get a win on the road, and this is one of the toughest places to play in the NBA, it should demonstrate to our guys that if they play with effort, they can compete against anybody." Brook Lopez scored 25 points, Devin Harris added 23 and Courtney Lee had 21 for the Nets, who went ahead at the end of the first quarter and never relinquished their lead.