Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles figured the most logical way to win in Miami would be to keep the Heat from running in their typical high-octane style.
Fortunately for the Bucks, the weary-legged Heat cooperated with that plan.
Brandon Jennings scored 23 points, Ersan Ilyasova added 16 off the bench and the Bucks – despite shooting 35 percent – snapped Miami’s three-game winning streak with a 91-82 victory on Sunday night. It was the second straight road win for Milwaukee, which started 0-8 away from home and held Miami to a season-low 37 percent from the floor.
”Huge,” said Milwaukee guard Shaun Livingston, who started both games, including Friday’s win at the New York Knicks. ”Especially for us being winless on the road and going 2-0 against two good teams, especially the quality team like the Heat, it’s huge for your confidence.”
Andrew Bogut scored 13 points for the Bucks, who got 10 apiece from Livingston and Stephen Jackson.
LeBron James finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which had won three straight. Chris Bosh scored 23 for the Heat, who got 12 from Mario Chalmers. Milwaukee turned 22 Miami turnovers into 22 points and the Heat tied an NBA season-low with nine assists, matching their second-lowest total in the franchise’s 1,870-game history.
Miami had wins over San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia in a five-day span ending Saturday. And the tanks were apparently emptied.
”We can’t make no excuses for ourselves,” James said. ”But no one had energy from the start of the game to the end.”
It was the first time Miami lost this season in seven games without Dwyane Wade, out again with a sprained right ankle.
Miami got within 83-80 with 2:15 left on a pair of free throws by Bosh, before Ilyasova restored Milwaukee’s five-point lead with 1:50 left. Miami’s next two possessions ended with a turnover and a missed layup by James with three Bucks in pursuit, and Jennings – who was 5 for 20 – came up with the clincher.
His putback of a missed 3-pointer by Jackson with 39.5 seconds left sealed the win for Milwaukee, which won despite missing 25 of its 30 tries from 3-point range, including 16 straight at one point.
”We had a great difficulty making shots, but we made up for it with tremendous effort,” Skiles said. ”Our defense was very, very good again. When we needed a couple big plays, we were able to make them.”
It’s the first time Milwaukee has won consecutive road games since December 2010.
The Heat sputtered all night, putting up season-lows in a number of categories, and by some wide margins to boot. Miami’s scoring low coming into Sunday was 89, field-goal percentage low was .395, low field-goal total was 32 (now 25) and assists was 16.
”We’re not going to make any excuses,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”That’s a busy week but that’s not an excuse for tonight. We competed, at times.”
Milwaukee led 46-41 at the half after putting up 28 points in the second quarter, despite shooting 8 for 24.
Miami was whistled for three technical fouls, first on Mike Miller, then Joel Anthony (who hadn’t had one in three seasons) and then assistant coach Ron Rothstein, all in a span of 30 seconds midway through the second quarter. Milwaukee was 12 for 12 from the line in the period.
Both teams held leads, neither bigger than five points, in the third quarter – another offensive show of offense, as the teams combined for nearly as many turnovers (11) as field goals (12). Combined, the teams shot 31 percent in the quarter, the Bucks leading 65-63 after the period thanks to Jackson hitting a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left.
Jackson connected on another 3-pointer early in the fourth and Jennings added a 3 midway through the final quarter for a 79-72 edge, the biggest for either club to that point. He was benched for Friday’s game in New York for sleeping through shootaround.
Jackson woke up when Milwaukee needed him Sunday.
”The biggest thing is I hate not being out there and tonight I was able to help my team,” Jackson said. ”We played a great team defensive game and anytime you can stop them from scoring over 100, you’ve got a great chance to win.”
Notes: Heat backup center Dexter Pittman needed five stitches to close a gash in his upper lip late in the first half. After the game, Pittman said he was fine. … James had one of the few highlight-reel moments in the first half, posting up Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy, then facing the basket and going around him for a reverse dunk while getting fouled. … Jackson appealed for a foul after getting leveled in the fourth quarter, apparently unaware it was Bogut who collided with him under the basket. … Livingston, who tried to restart his career in Miami after his horrific knee injury as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers in February 2007, sought out Heat trainer Jay Sabol and strength-conditioning guru Bill Foran for embraces before the game.