NBA roundup: Heat scorch Bucks in blowout, Tatum shines in Celtics romp

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NBA roundup: Heat scorch Bucks in blowout, Tatum shines in Celtics romp
Giannis Antetokounmpo (L) of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket
Giannis Antetokounmpo (L) of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket
AFP
An under-strength Miami Heat thrashed the struggling Milwaukee Bucks 123-97 on Tuesday while Jayson Tatum (25) scored a 41-point double-double as the Boston Celtics cruised past the Brooklyn Nets.

Miami shrugged off the injury absences of Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson to produce a shooting clinic in a one-sided rout on the road at Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum.

Nikola Jovic led the Miami scorers with 24 points including five three-pointers while Duncan Robinson poured in six threes in his 23-point haul.

Miami went 19-of-40 from outside the arc, with six players finishing in double figures.

Veteran Kevin Love also got into the shooting groove, making five three-pointers off the bench to finish with 19 points in what was a wire-to-wire win for Miami.

But the defeat left recently installed Milwaukee Bucks coach Doc Rivers with plenty to ponder as his team prepares for the All-Star break.

Rivers took charge last month after the shock dismissal of predecessor Adrian Griffin, with the brief of helping improve Milwaukee's defense.

Yet it was another porous display by the Bucks, who struggled to build any kind of momentum against a well-organized Miami unit.

"Speed, pace - they were quicker on everything at both ends," Rivers said after the loss.

"You have these nights, you hate them, but it is what it is. I thought as bad as it looked defensively, I thought our offense was way worse tonight. It started early.

"At half-time, I thought it was just awful offense. Right now our team gets its personality from the offensive end and we don't want that; we want to get our personality from playing hard and doing defensive things. And tonight we didn't do that."

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee's scoring with 23 points while three players - Malik Beasley, Damian Lillard and Bobby Portis - all finished with 16 points apiece.

Miami, beaten by Denver in last season's NBA Finals, improved to 29-25 with the win and are seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.

Milwaukee fell to 35-20 and are third in the East behind first-placed Boston and second-placed Cleveland.

Celtics romp, Suns down Kings

The Celtics meanwhile stretched their unbeaten streak to five games with a 118-110 defeat of the Brooklyn Nets, with Tatum in dazzling form to finish with 41 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

Jaylen Brown added 19 points, while Al Horford and Derrick White added 16 points each as the Celtics improved to 42-12 at the top of the East.

The Celtics led from the first quarter, stretching their advantage to 23 points by the third quarter before Brooklyn rallied in the fourth to get within six with less than three minutes remaining.

"I was just in a good rhythm," said Tatum, who scored 31 of his points in the first half.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder blew past the Orlando Magic 127-113.

Jalen Williams (33) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (32) combined for 65 points as the Thunder recovered from an 11-point deficit in the first quarter to run out convincing winners.

At the top of the Western Conference, Minnesota stayed one game ahead of Oklahoma City with a 121-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Anthony Edwards scored 41 points in the comfortable victory on the road.

The Timberwolves lead the West with a 38-16 record, one game over the Thunder, who are in second on 37-17.

In Phoenix, the fifth-placed Suns overcame an 11-point third quarter deficit and dazzling performances from De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis to edge past the Sacramento Kings 130-125 in a see-saw encounter that saw 17 lead changes.

"That's a tough team to stop, I'm glad we got the win," said Phoenix star Kevin Durant, who led the Suns scorers with 28 points, with Devin Booker adding 25 and Eric Gordon 23.

"You've got to give Sacramento credit - they just don't stop playing and they're always in the game," Durant added.

Fox led the Kings scoring with 40 points while Sabonis had a 35-point triple-double with 18 rebounds and 12 assists.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers had too much firepower for the lowly Detroit Pistons, who are bottom of the Eastern Conference with a league-worst 8-45.

The Lakers cruised home 125-111, with LeBron James leading the home side's scorers with 25 points.

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