Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/19

Game 1: Tuesday, November 19th
Game 2: Tuesday, March 4th
Game 3: Sunday, March 30th
Game 4: Monday, March 31st

Heat 87

(23-51, 8-29 away)

Bucks 109

(35-39, 20-16 home)

    3:00 PM ET, March 30, 2003

    BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 18 30 19 2087
    MIL 36 25 25 23109

    Top Performers

    Miami: C. Butler 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Milwaukee: S. Cassell 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl

    Bucks' stars and subs have hand in victory

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks realize they will make the playoffs if they refuse to lose over the remainder of the season.

    Gary Payton had 24 points and Sam Cassell, who scored just two points in a loss to Utah two days earlier, had 23 points and nine assists as the Bucks snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating the Miami Heat 109-87 Sunday.

    "We've got to win all our games,'' Payton said. "It's not like back-to-back is going to be a big difference. We'll have to win all of them for us to get into the playoffs. We can't take any game lightly. We've got to come back and try to win tomorrow night.''

    The Bucks play Miami again on Monday night.

    Toni Kukoc added 18 points, Michael Redd 14 and Desmond Mason had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, whose reserves outscored Miami's 47-25.

    Rookie Caron Butler led the Heat with 24 points, Mike James added 15 and Eddie House 12, but it wasn't enough to keep the Heat from losing their 12th game in the last 16.

    The Bucks pulled away early, using a 24-2 that started midway through the first quarter. Redd hit a pair of 3-pointers and Kukoc added a three-point play and two free throws.

    The Bucks pushed the lead to 25 on Ervin Johnson's free throw with 3:15 left in the second, but the Heat stayed in it with a 10-0 run keyed by 3-pointers from House and James that pulled Miami to 61-48 at the half.

    "If somebody's going to get 61 points on us in a half, we're not going to beat anybody playing that kind of game,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said.

    Miami got as close as nine points twice in the third quarter. The last time was when Butler's free throw pulled the Heat to 76-67 with 2:54 left in the third.

    The Heat would get no closer as Payton and Redd stopped the comeback attempt by scoring five points apiece. Redd's fourth 3-pointer gave the Bucks an 86-67 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

    The Bucks (35-39) were coming off an 0-3 road trip and had lost eight of the last 10. The slide has left them in a virtual tie with the Washington Wizards for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks own the tiebreaker over the Wizards, who played later Sunday at Denver.

    Payton said there is no mistaking how important the team's eight remaining games are.

    "If we're not (in playoff mode), we should be,'' Payton said. "Eight games left to start playing like we are in the playoffs, or we won't get there.''

    Tim Thomas entered the game late in the first quarter to a chorus of boos.

    On Saturday, Milwaukee fined Thomas an unspecified amount for failing to re-enter a game. Thomas had been upset about playing power forward instead of small forward since the acquisition of Desmond Mason from Seattle.

    But when Thomas grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 1.7 seconds left in the first quarter, it was all cheers from the fifth sellout (18,717) of the season. His 14-ft jumper capped a 24-2 run and put Milwaukee up 36-18.

    Bucks coach George Karl has said that Thomas will have to earn his way back into the starting lineup.

    Thomas finished with three rebounds, a blocked shot, a steal and three turnovers in 21 minutes.

    Game notes

    Bucks forward Anthony Mason left the game early in the second quarter with a sore left thigh. He is day-to-day. ... Bucks sixth man Michael Redd qualified for the NBA's career 3-point accuracy leaders. His 3-pointer with 2:27 left in the first quarter put him in the record book. He came into the game at .441, trailing only Steve Kerr (.454) and Hubert Davis (.442). ... Butler, from Racine, Wis., arranged for more than 60 tickets to the game. ... The Bucks outrebounded Miami 48-28.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 109
    FGM-FGA 32-77 (.416) 41-80 (.513)
    3PM-3PA 6-13 (.462) 9-17 (.529)
    FTM-FTA 17-23 (.739) 18-20 (.900)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-28 17-48
    Assists 20 27
    Turnovers 12 14
    Steals 9 8
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 4 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 23 (1/1)

    Top Performers

    Caron Butler Butler
    Points: 24
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1
    Sam Cassell Cassell
    Points: 23
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0