8:30 PM ET, March 29, 2014
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
MILWAUKEE -- Short-handed and a little disheveled with the ball, the Miami Heat finished off their three-game swing through the Midwest with a sterling performance on the other end of the floor.
"In the playoffs, we're going to have to rely on our defense," Bosh said.
Didn't matter against the team with the NBA's worst record. Milwaukee tried to match Miami's energy, but couldn't keep with the more talented opponent -- even one without two All-Stars.
Defense was the difference. The Heat led 46-29 at halftime and held the Bucks to a season low for points in a half and in a game.
The Bucks shot 34 percent, the fourth straight time that Miami held a foe to under 40 percent from the field.
"We did a poor job off the dribble with that next pass, hoping that next pass would lead to a ... good look at the basket," coach Larry Drew said.
Not so much.
The Heat led by as much as 21. They were never threatened past the first quarter.
"I just didn't feel like we had that pep in our step," Drew said. "We were talking about getting out in transition. "Against a good team, you can't rely on your half court every possession."
On paper, this was a mismatch from the opening tip -- the two-time defending NBA champions against a young, undermanned squad that fell to 14-59 on the season.
But it wasn't the prettiest of games. Perhaps Miami was a little worn from their third straight road game and fourth in five contests.
"We came in with a workmanlike attitude," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "There was a commitment to it. You could tell from the beginning we weren't trying to take the easy way out."
James extended his consecutive-game streak of double-digit scoring to 564, the fourth-longest run in NBA history. But James only got to 10 with about 5:16 left in the third quarter on a 3.
Fresh off recording a triple-double in a 110-78 blowout win Friday night in Detroit, James had nearly as many turnovers (three) as points (four) in the first half. His two early buckets, though, came off open dunks that thrilled the crowd, a few of whom were wearing James jerseys.
Miami opened the game 3-of-14 from the field. The shooting improved, and the Heat clamped down on the other end and held the Bucks to 12-of-39 shooting (30 percent) in the first half.
The road trip ended with two straight wins after losing Wednesday in Indiana. Just like Friday night, James spent the fourth quarter on the bench with a victory well in hand.
"It was a great trip overall, just how we bounced back with all the adversity as far as guys in and out of the lineup," James said.
The only real drama in the second half was when James would get to double digits in scoring.
A dunk with 6 minutes left in the third gave Milwaukee a 54-38 lead. Khris Middleton missed a jumper, and James corralled the rebound before spotting up at the wing for his 3 to get to double figures.
Later, James got another defensive rebound and then threw a long outlet pass to a streaking Udonis Haslem down court for a layup.
James clapped, slapped his right hand on his thigh and waited down court on defense. His night was just about over.
Bothered by a sore hamstring, Wade watched in a gray suit and white sneakers in returning to the arena in which he played college ball at Marquette.
Allen, sidelined with a stomach virus, played in Milwaukee from 1996 through part of the 2002-03 season. He holds the franchise record for most 3-point field goals in a game at home with 10. ... Chalmers missed the game with a bruised quad, and Greg Oden was also sidelined by back spasms. ... The Bucks have yet to win consecutive games all season. They were coming off a 108-105 win Thursday over the Lakers.
MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 29: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat handles the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks on March...(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Next 5 Games
The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference while the Heat currently have the 2nd-best record, 8.5 games ahead of the Raptors (3rd best). Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1983-84, there have been 4 instances in which the 2nd and 3rd best teams in a Conference were separated by 7+ games. Each time, the top 2 records met in the Conference Finals.[+]
Most Games Between 2nd and 3rd Best Record in Conference - Since 1983-84
ESPN Stats & Information
- NBA Home
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Hornets
- Miami Heat
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
- The Ten