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Bucks vs. Heat Final Score: New lineup pays dividends in 114-108 victory

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Despite a change in the starting lineup, the Bucks' big three put up big numbers once again and the Bucks beat the Heat for the second time this season.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The major news on Wednesday night was a change to the Bucks' starting lineup, but the Bucks did everything they could to change the headline as they came from behind in the game's final quarter to pull out a 114-108 victory over the Miami Heat. Despite the changes, Giannis Anteteokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 24 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He was assisted by Khris Middleton with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, as well as Jabari Parker with 23 points and three rebounds.

After slow starts in the last two games, Jason Kidd's switch to the starting lineup paid off as the Bucks jumped out to 7-0 lead after just two minutes of game play and managed to finish the first 12 minutes with that same seven point lead, 29-22. The most notable addition to the starting lineup, Greg Monroe, didn't score in the first quarter, but Middleton and Antetokounmpo carried the load, scoring 21 of the Bucks' 29 points.

For the last week, Kidd has said that Tyler Ennis was going to start to play more and he did just that in the second quarter. Ennis played ten and a half minutes and collected two points and three assists. Two of those assists went to fellow bench player Miles Plumlee, who went a perfect five-for-five from the field in the first half. With the boost from the bench, the Bucks took a 57-54 lead into the half.

The Bucks fed the ball repeatedly to Jabari Parker to start the third quarter and responded with nine points in the first five minutes and 11 for the quarter. Halfway through the third quarter, Milwaukee took an eight point lead and looked to be on their way to an even bigger lead, but couldn't close the quarter as they allowed Miami to come all the way back and even take a five-point lead into the fourth quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, it was again the bench duo of Plumlee and Ennis that brought them back into the game, scoring 11 of the Bucks' first 13 points of the quarter. With the Bucks down 92-91, Justise Winslow swooped in for a rebound and elbowed Plumlee in the face. The officials reviewed the play and ruled it a flagrant one. Plumlee hit both free throws and Antetokounmpo followed it up with a finger roll to give the Bucks a four-point possession and a 95-92 lead.

With their lead down to three with just under a minute left, the Bucks turned to Middleton for a basket and he delivered on a floating jumper off a pick-and-roll with Antetokounmpo to give the Bucks a 107-102 lead with 27.9 seconds left. With just over half a minute left, the Heat fouled the Bucks a number of times and Milwaukee eventually closed the game out from the line.

The Bucks will be back in action on Saturday against the Pelicans in Milwaukee. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST.

Tidbits:

  • For 12 games, the Bucks started the lineup of Antetokounmpo-Mayo-Middleton-Parker-Plumlee and they went 6-6 in those games. Those games ushered in more aggressive and confident versions of Antetokounmpo and Parker. On Wednesday night, the Bucks inserted Monroe and Bayless into the lineup for Plumlee and Mayo, who had a stomach virus.
  • Before the game, Jason Kidd said that they would like to see John Henson hit the practice floor on Friday and possibly play next week. Wednesday night was the 18th consecutive game that he has missed. (h/t Charles F. Gardner)
  • Ennis and O'Bryant both saw first quarter action Wednesday night. O'Bryant even hit a hook shot with a second left in the first quarter.
  • The Bucks tried to get Parker involved early in the second half, going to him repeatedly on the block with Dwyane Wade covering him.
  • Tyler Ennis played a season-high 26 minutes, just narrowly edging out his 24 minutes played in Boston on December 2nd. In those 26 minutes, he recorded eight points and five assists,
  • Miles Plumlee scored a season-high 18 points in just under 25 minutes of action Wednesday night.
  • With just a minute left in the game, Antetokounmpo threw a gorgeous no-look behind-the-back pass to Plumlee. It bounced out of Plumlee's hands and out of bounds. Excuse me while I wax poetic for a little bit. When I was growing up, I had an affinity for fancy passes. One day in practice I threw a no-look pass and a behind-the-back pass to my big and he dropped both of them. My coach told me to play smarter. During the next stoppage, I told him that both passes hit my teammate right in the hands and it was his fault. He responded, "It doesn't matter how good your pass was if your teammate can't catch it. Know your target." I think that sums up my thoughts on Antetokounmpo's pass.

Thoughts:

  • Parker anchored a lineup with Ennis-Vaughn-O'Bryant-Plumlee in the second quarter. It is the first time I can recall him anchoring a bench-only lineup in the second quarter this season. If tonight's starting lineup means more of that, it would be an exciting development.
  • After a strong first half, Middleton really struggled in the second half. He had a number of turnovers and scored just eight points, four of which came on free throws with less than 15 seconds left in the game. There was a stretch of play where he just looked completely lost.
  • Despite starting, Monroe did not play a minute of the final quarter. I can't imagine he is particularly happy about that.
  • Both Antetokounmpo and Parker ended the night with solid stat lines, but it appeared that both were affected by Kidd re-inserting Greg Monroe into the starting lineup. Antetokounmpo seemed only mildly affected by the lineup change, but Parker didn't seem nearly as comfortable early as he had been in recent games.
  • Parker scored just two points in the first quarter and struggled finding spots to attack early in the game. It's strange to see him struggle so much to have confidence with Monroe on the floor because though Plumlee moves quicker than Monroe, he occupies many of the same positions on the floor. It just speaks to how much comfort matters to a young player.
  • With that being said, he nearly made Amare Stoudemire retire in the first quarter