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Knight leads Bucks past slumping Heat

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MIAMI — Brandon Knight, the hometown guy, had never won a professional game in Miami.

It didn’t happen in the two years he played for the Detroit Pistons, and his Milwaukee Bucks went 0-for-3 against the Miami Heat last season.

Sunday night was different, however, and Knight made sure of it.

Knight, the Bucks’ point guard, made three key 3-pointers in the final minutes to lead Milwaukee past the slumping Miami Heat 91-84 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“It feels good,” said Knight, who scored a game-high 20 points. “My friends used to always ask me: ‘Who are the Bucks?’ It’s like, ‘We’re in the league, we’re in Milwaukee.’ “

Explaining who the Bucks are will be easier now for Knight, who played his high school ball locally at Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest.

On Sunday, each of Knight’s 3-pointers came after the Heat closed the deficit to four or fewer points. His first 3-pointer in that stretch came with 3:12 left. He hit again with 2:40 remaining and closed out his heroics with a 3-pointer at the 1:11 mark.

“Brandon really came big for us,” said Bucks rookie forward Jabari Parker, who had 13 points, six rebounds and two steals.

Milwaukee (5-5) won for the third time in four games, outscoring Miami 53-38 in the second half.

The Bucks had lost five straight in their rivalry with the Heat. But their defense was key on Sunday, holding the Heat to 41.1 percent shooting.

“We’re a long team,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

Part of that length is 6-foot-11 small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who made his first start of the season and had 11 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes.

He and the 6-foot-9 Parker, who moved to power forward to make room in the starting lineup, are a pair of 19-year-olds with promising futures in Milwaukee.

“We liked what we saw,” Kidd said of the forward duo. “Hopefully we can build off of it.”

Meanwhile, Miami (5-5), playing without injured shooting guard Dwyane Wade, lost its third game in a row.

The Heat’s other star, forward Chris Bosh, struggled, making just two of 17 shots and scoring 10 points. He did block five shots and had five assists and five rebounds, but his shooting slump was an issue for Miami.

“I think he had some good clean looks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Bosh. “He had some other shots that were contested at the end of the clock.

“We need to do a better job of getting him in places where he feels comfortable and where he can have a count or two where he is open.”

Said Bosh: “It’s frustrating — the past couple of games, my shot has not been falling.”

Playing without Wade didn’t help Miami.

“It’s tough,” said Heat forward Luol Deng, who had 10 points and eight rebounds. “We haven’t played great the past couple of games. We know that. But it’s a long season. We just need to keep working together.”

Miami got off to a good start. Led by a combined total of 11 points from rookie guards James Ennis and Shabazz Napier, Miami led 23-19 after the first quarter. Napier finished with 10 points in the game, and Ennis had a season-high nine points.

Miami extended its advantage to 46-38 at halftime, leading by as many as 12 points in the second quarter.

But Milwaukee outscored Miami 26-13 in the crucial third quarter, taking a 64-59 lead. Miami shot just 21.1 percent (four of 19) in the third quarter and also committed seven turnovers.

“We’ve got a guy in the middle in (center) Larry Sanders who is doing a great job quarterbacking us,” Knight said of the Bucks’ defensive leader. “Our mentality is different this year.”

NOTES: Heat F Shawne Williams had a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. … Bucks F Khris Middleton (knee injury), who had missed two straight games, returned and scored 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench. … Heat G Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and F Josh McRoberts (foot blister) missed their second straight games. Last season, Wade missed nine games in a row due to a hamstring injury. … SG James Ennis started in place of Wade on Friday, but Mario Chalmers got the call Sunday. … McRoberts, one of the Heat’s biggest offseason acquisitions, previously this season dealt with toe and back injuries. … Heat F Danny Granger (hamstring) and C Justin Hamilton (hip) are also out. … Bucks F Damien Inglis (broken right foot) and C Johnny O’Bryant (right knee) are out. … Next up, the Bucks return home to play the New York Knicks on Tuesday. … The Heat play at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.