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Heat look for another hot month, take on Bucks

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The Miami Heat will look to carry their February momentum into March on Wednesday night when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Heat sizzled in February, winning nine of 11 games, and will look to extend their winning streak to five games after Monday night’s 112-99 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls.

Miami has built an 11-game lead in the Southeast Division and holds a two-game edge on the Bulls for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Heat’s win over Chicago was their sixth in a row over Eastern foes after Tyler Herro had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists on 7-of-13 shooting off the bench.

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Although Chicago shot a crisp 48.8 percent from the field, Miami was the first team to hold DeMar DeRozan under 20 points in 21 games — since the Warriors did so on Jan. 14. The Heat’s perimeter defense was stellar, as the Bulls made just seven of their 29 3-point attempts.

“They’re (Bulls) a great — not just a good — but they’re a great offensive team, so that’ll catch your attention,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The core of Jimmy (Butler), and Bam (Adebayo), and PJ (Tucker) just gives you a lot of dynamic, multifaceted, positionless defenders that can cover a lot of ground.”

After dealing with a handful of injuries earlier in the season, Miami is much healthier now, but Markieff Morris could miss Wednesday’s contest with a neck injury. Kyle Lowry also is listed as day-to-day due to personal reasons.

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The Bucks closed February on a high note, beating the Charlotte Hornets 130-106 on Monday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Milwaukee was dominant in rebounds, pulling in 72 compared with the Hornets’ 53. The Bucks sank 32 of 37 free throws.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and four blocks on 6-of-10 shooting to record his fourth consecutive double-double. Jrue Holiday added 21 points, and Bobby Portis finished with 20 along with 10 rebounds as six Bucks scored in double figures.

“I think going back and watching film and watching us do it against Brooklyn (in Saturday night’s loss) was just motivation for today to be consistent, to get back to who we are,” Holiday said. “Which is controlling turnovers, playing defense and getting out in transition and then knocking down free throws.”

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The Bucks are still awaiting the return of Brook Lopez, who has not played since the season opener due to a back injury. Pat Connaughton also is out recovering from surgery on his right hand, and George Hill remains sidelined due to a neck injury.

Connaughton’s injury has had a negative effect on Milwaukee’s shooting ability from deep, as the Bucks have shot under 35 percent from 3-point range in three of their past five games. The 6-foot-5 guard is shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc this season.

Wednesday will mark the fourth and final meeting between the Bucks and Heat. Milwaukee will look to even the season series after falling down 2-1 due to a 113-104 loss on Dec. 8.

–Field Level Media

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