Reigning NBA champions the Miami Heat moved within one game of ousting the Milwaukee Bucks from the first round of the playoffs on Thursday, closing strong in a 104-91 victory.
LeBron James scored 22 points and Chris Bosh notched a double-double, while Ray Allen added 23 points and set a record for three-pointers in the post-season as Miami took a 3-0 stranglehold on the best-of-seven first-round series.
No NBA team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
The game was one of two Eastern Conference contests on Thursday. In Chicago, the Bulls held on for a 79-76 victory over the Brooklyn Nets to take a 2-1 lead in their series.
After a late-game collapse in Game 2 in Miami, Milwaukee seemed buoyed by the home crowd.
They led much of the first half and after Miami seized the lead early in the third quarter, Milwaukee engineered a 9-0 scoring run to regain the advantage.
In the end, though, the Bucks could not hold off the Heat, who closed the third quarter on a 23-7 scoring run and kept their foot on the gas in the fourth.
Overall, the Heat outscored the Bucks 56-41 in the second half en route to the key victory.
James connected on nine of 14 from the field, while Bosh added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Allen went five for eight from three-point range and now has 322 three-pointers in the post-season in his career. That surpassed the playoff record of 320 held by Reggie Miller.
“It just came out of nowhere, just thinking about it the past couple games when I was made aware of it,” Allen said of the record. “There’s so many great players, great shooters, great athletes that came into this and I’ve been able to leave my mark.”
Dwayne Wade had a disappointing shooting night, connecting on just one of 12 shots, but he contributed 11 assists, nine rebounds and five steals.
“I had to do other things,” said Wade, who appeared to aggravate his sore right knee in a fall in the first quarter. “It’s the playoffs. I wasn’t feeling great, but I did other things.”
Once again Milwaukee’s top players struggled, with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis combining for 23 points.
The Bucks will try to keep the series alive when they host Game 4 tomorrow.
“We had to fight for this one,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “[Milwaukee] came out with a great deal of intensity like we expected.”
In Chicago, the Bulls again displayed determined defense against a Nets team that held on long enough to have a chance to tie it in the waning seconds.
Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Bulls, while Luol Deng contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Although they were held to 34.6 percent shooting from the field, the Nets trimmed a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to three with four seconds remaining.
However, C.J. Watson was off-target on a potentially game-tying three-pointer.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.