Heat rookie Butler returns home with 20 points


MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Caron Butler, Vladimir Stepania and Malik Allen saved their best performances for the same game.

All posted season highs to lead the Miami Heat to a 97-93 win Tuesday night over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Rookie Butler, who played at Park High School in nearby Racine, had 20 points in his first appearance before his home state fans. Stepania added a career-high 15 rebounds and Allen a career-high 13.

Eddie Jones scored 22 points, and Travis Best added 19 for the Heat. who improved to 2-7. Ray Allen had 24 points for the Bucks, who dropped to 5-5.

"We played very well for 3 quarters,'' Miami coach Pat Riley
said. "Then, we turned it over, and Ray took over for a while, but
we pulled it out.''

The Heat took a 12-point lead into the final quarter and held
off two Milwaukee rallies. Allen cut the margin to 96-93, on a
3-point shot with 30.6 seconds left. The Bucks got the ball back
and Toni Kukoc put up another 3-pointer that missed.

Jones sank one of two throws with 4.6 seconds left to put Miami
up 97-93. Butler stole the ball from Michael Redd as the Bucks
tried to work for a final shot.

Earlier in the quarter, Allen and Kukoc hit back-to-back 3-point
shots to pull Milwaukee within 87-82 with 6:48 left. Allen cut the
margin to three with a layup as the clock dipped under 6 minutes.

The Heat went on a 7-0 run and regained a double-digit lead when
Best hit a 3-pointer with 3:43 left.

"They played with a lot more urgency that we did,'' Bucks coach George Karl said. "We came out cool and casual. The way we handled success (a win over Boston Saturday night) was very disappointing.''

Butler played before more than 40 family members in the crowd of
13,632 at the Bradley Center.

"It was really fun to be out there,'' he said. "My loved ones really turned out to support me. It was a beautiful thing.''

Miami led for most the game and was ahead 80-68 by the end of the third quarter. The Bucks shot only 25 percent (6-of-24) in the third quarter.

"We didn't come in ready to play the game,'' Kukoc said. "They
played hard for 48 minutes. We're not a team that is good enough to
pick who we're going to play hard against.''

Game notes
Allen was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary
examination after the game. He was hit in the head in the second
quarter, but played 34 minutes...The Heat have the best record
(35-17) of any NBA team against Milwaukee. ... Bucks center Joel
Przybilla practiced Monday and could be getting close to coming off
the injured list (left ankle bone spurs). "We have Wednesday and
Thursday practices,'' coach George Karl said. "We should know more
about his status after Thursday's practice.''