MIAMI — Dwyane Wade scored 27 points, Udonis Haslem had 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 100th career double-double, and the Miami Heat improved their stance in the Eastern Conference playoff chase by beating the reeling Milwaukee Bucks 102-85 on Saturday night.
James Jones and Michael Beasley each scored 11 and Jermaine O’Neal added 10 for the Heat, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Richard Jefferson scored 32 and Dan Gadzuric had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Milwaukee, which lost its fifth straight. The Bucks’ bench was outscored 26-0 in the first half, 37-14 in the game, and no Milwaukee reserve scored until Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s free throws with 5.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
And still, the Heat had to sweat it out in the fourth.
Up 75-50 with 4:40 remaining in the third and looking poised for a blowout win, Miami suddenly found itself in a game that was anything but decided.
With Jefferson getting 12 points to lead the way, Milwaukee went on a 25-7 run over the next 9 minutes, holding Miami to 2-for-15 shooting from the field in that stretch. Ramon Sessions made a pair of free throws with 7:40 left, and Milwaukee was within 82-75.
The rally ended there.
Haslem — who was 8-for-9 from the field — hit a jumper, recovered after getting screened to intercept a pass on the next Milwaukee possession, and Wade followed that with a 20-footer while getting knocked to the floor.
Jones hit a pair of 3-pointers 2½ minutes apart, the second of which increased the Heat lead 89-77 with 6:13 left.
Miami (39-34) moved a full game ahead of Philadelphia (37-34) in the race for fifth in the East — a critical spot because it would ensure not seeing Cleveland, Orlando or Boston until at least the second round of the playoffs.
The Heat also closed within three games of Atlanta, which still has the inside track on the East’s No. 4 seed.
The Bucks (31-43) remain alive in the postseason chase, albeit barely and perhaps only mathematically. They fell five games behind Detroit — a winner over Washington earlier Saturday — for the East’s final postseason spot with only eight games remaining.
Milwaukee has now lost 28 games against the East this season; only Washington has been worse in that regard.
Miami survived a bit of a slow start to take a 30-23 lead after one quarter, then held the Bucks without a field goal for nearly a four-minute stretch of the second on the way to a 58-43 advantage at intermission.<
Notes:@ The Heat are 60-40 when Haslem has a double-double. … Milwaukee’s first five reserves played a combined 45 minutes, 12 seconds before any of them scored. … When Miami hosts Orlando on Monday, halftime will be 24 minutes — 10 longer than usual — because of Alonzo Mourning’s jersey retirement ceremony. … Retired tennis star Anna Kournikova was among those in the crowd.