Damian Lillard, Bucks beat Heat, clinch East Group B

Damian Lillard scored 13 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 131-124 win on the road against the short-handed Miami Heat on Tuesday, clinching the Bucks a spot in the quarterfinals of the NBA in-season tournament.

Lillard also dished a team-high nine assists while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 and grabbed 10 rebounds as Milwaukee won East Group B with a perfect 4-0 record in group play. Khris Middleton, who started despite being questionable with Achilles tendinitis, scored 17.

Miami, without Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro among others, was led by Bam Adebayo with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Lowry added 21 points and Josh Richardson a season-high 20 points along with seven assists.

As opposed to their previous game against Portland on Sunday when they had to come back from a 26-point deficit to win, the Bucks started this game strong with a 15-2 run. They led by nine at the end of the first quarter.

Miami was then able to settle into the game, going into the halftime break with a 62-59 advantage. Adebayo caused plenty of problems for the Bucks in the half, scoring 15 points.

In the third quarter, the Heat went 7-for-12 from deep to improve their long-range shooting to 50 percent (12 of 24) through three quarters (compared to 33.3 percent for the Bucks).

Despite that difference, Miami was able to add only one point to their lead — 97-93 going into the final quarter. Antetokounmpo had 27 points through three quarters.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle with multiple lead changes, requiring another classic Lillard clutch performance to propel the Bucks to victory.

At one point, Lillard scored 10 consecutive points in the period, including two huge shots from beyond the arc — the last tying the game at 118-118 with 3:03 left. Middleton’s basket gave Milwaukee the lead for good on the team’s next possession, and the Bucks closed out the game with 5-for-5 free-throw shooting and a pair of dunks.

Next up in the tournament, the Bucks will host the New York Knicks in a quarterfinal next week.

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