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NBA: Heat push Bucks to brink, Bulls win

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The 2012 NBA champion Miami Heat moved within one game of ousting the Milwaukee Bucks from the first round of the 2013 playoffs Thursday, closing strong in a 104-91 victory.

LeBron James scored 22 points, Chris Bosh notched a double-double and 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 two 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, however, the Bucks couldn't 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 out-scored the Bucks 56-41 in the second half en route to the key victory.

James connected on 9-of-14 from the field, and Bosh added 16 points with 14 rebounds. Allen went 5-for-8 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 four on Sunday.

"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.

C.J. Watson, however, was off-target on a potentially game-tying three-pointer.

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Eastern Conference action continues on Friday, when the Boston Celtics host the New York Knicks in game three of their series, which the Knicks lead 2-0.

The Celtics haven't played a game at home since five days before the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured 264 on April 15.

"Obviously, it's going to be emotional, and quite honestly, it should be," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Thursday. "I hope that we channel it in the right way, and I think we will. I really do. It will be emotional for the fans, it will be emotional for the players."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130426/nba-heat-push-bucks-brink-bulls-win