Wade-less Heat play poorly, lose to Milwaukee at home

From the moment that opening tip went up in the air, the Miami Heat looked like they were a step behind Milwaukee and were never able to catch up.  Playing without Dwyane Wade, the Heat were going to need a little bit extra from the rest of the team last night, but when LeBron James and co. reached into their bag of tricks they unfortunately came up empty handed. 

As if to set the tone for the rest of the game, Miami's first offensive possession ended in a turnover.  An Erick Dampier dunk put the Heat up 8-6 about 4 minutes into the game, but after that points suddenly became very difficult for the Heat to come by.  Miami would hit just 1 shot over the next 7:12 while turning the ball over another 6 times before the quarter ended.

Milwaukee extended their lead all the way to 14 points early in the 2nd quarter before the Heat finally began to show some signs of life.  They got things started by scoring 9 straight points over the next 3 minutes, with all 9 being scored by Chris Bosh and James Jones.  Miami kept pushing and got all the way to within 1 point of the Bucks as their run was capped off at 19-6. 

With the score 41-40 and just under four minutes left in the half, suddenly the Heat would go ice cold.  They missed all 8 of their final shots, including 3 from downtown, and turned the ball over twice.  Miami just appeared to be out of sync and unable to do anything right.  Fortunately for them, the Bucks were almost equally as bad during that span, shooting just 1-for-9 and taking a 5-point lead into the break.

When the 2nd half got started it looked like Miami was beginning to turn things around.  Mike Bibby hit back-to-back triples followed by one from LeBron James that tied the game at 53.   The Bucks and Heat then traded 8-0 runs over the next 5 minutes, and once again it was LeBron tying the game with a 3-pointer.  After making just 3-of-11 from downtown in the opening half, Miami hit 4-of-7 in the 3rd quarter and went into the final 12 minutes with the game tied. 

When the beginning of the 4th quarter was dominated by Joel Anthony, of all people, I figured that things were finally going to start working in the Heat's favor.  He picked up a pair of offensive boards on Miami's first possession and put the second one right back into the basket, giving the Heat their first lead since the score was 8-6.  Following a missed jumper by Drew Gooden, Miami came down the floor looking to expand their lead.

Moving quickly, Mario Chalmers came down the lane and saw Joel Anthony cutting towards the rim on the baseline.  Rio fed ‘The Warden' with a nice bounce pass and as Anthony began to go up with the ball, Drew Gooden came down with his left arm across Joel's head and face.  Anthony went down and the ref immediately called Gooden for a flagrant foul.  Joel made both free throws and on the following Heat possession he grabbed another offensive rebound, but Miami couldn't capitalize and their lead stayed at 4. 

The teams traded buckets over the next several minutes but at the halfway point of the quarter LeBron James picked off a Drew Gooden pass and turned it into a breakaway dunk, putting the Heat up 77-73.  Milwaukee would then go on a 10-2 run over the next 4½ minutes as Miami missed 5 straight shots.  With 1:35 left LeBron ended the dry spell with a nice layup, getting the Heat within 2.

The Heat got the ball back with a chance to tie the game or take the lead with a 3, and with the shot clock winding down LeBron attacked the rim and was fouled by Andrew Bogut.  James missed the second free throw, but Chris Bosh tapped the ball towards the corner, then ran it down and saved it before it went out of bounds.  LeBron never got the chance to put up a shot because Mike Bibby was called for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen for James.

Carlos Delfino drilled a trey from the corner that acted as the dagger, putting the Bucks up by 4 with just 24 seconds left.  I know the Heat made it exciting with a few runs in the 2nd half, but overall this game was just a huge disappointment from start to finish.  With the playoffs right around the corner, you have to hope that this game represents the last time Miami's focus and effort are brought into question.

On a night where Miami needed its supporting cast to step up in the absence of Dwyane Wade, only LeBron James and Chris Bosh scored in double figures for the Heat.  James led everyone with 29 points, adding 8 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots while Bosh scored 18 and grabbed 7 boards.  They combined to shoot 43% (16-of-37) and each went 6-of-8 from the foul line.

GAME NOTES

  • Even with the win, Milwaukee was eliminated from playoff contention last night when Indiana beat the Wizards.  The Pacers clinched the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. 
  • Miami turned the ball over 16 times, which led to 18 points for the Bucks. 
  • Joel Anthony and Mike Miller each grabbed double digit rebounds.  The last time two bench players pulled that off was when Rony Seikaly and Matt Geiger did it all the way back in 1994.
  • Anthony played one of his best games of the season last night.  He tied a season-high with 8 points and added 11 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive end.  Joel was perfect shooting the ball, making 3-of-3 from the field and both of his free throws. 
  • The Heat fell to 3-11 when scoring under 90 points this season.  
  • Milwaukee was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting 15-of-15, while the Heat made 17-of-21. 
  • I was shocked when I looked at the box score and saw that James Jones played 33 minutes.  I guess he spent most of the game standing in the corner waiting for a pass that never came.  He finished 1-of-5 with 5 points and 5 rebounds. 
  • Mario Chalmers played just 17 minutes but still managed to go 1-for-9 from the field with no assists. 

Miami will get a day to practice before hosting the Bobcats tomorrow night.  Assuming Erik Spoelstra uses the practice to work on whatever mistakes were made by the Heat last night, those players are in for a long day of work today. 

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