Heat Check: Miami rolls through Milwaukee to maintain lead in East

MIAMI — The Miami Heat extended their winning streak to four games on Wednesday night by again beating a inferior opponent — something they have struggled with at times this season.

The Heat routed the Milwaukee Bucks for the second time in five nights, 96-77 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami 88-67 won at Milwaukee (14-61) on Saturday night.

Throw in Friday night’s win at Detroit and Miami’s current winning streak includes three wins over losing teams. The Heat (52-22) have lost to sub-.500 teams 10 times this season.

The defending champions went ahead 33-19 after one quarter and never led by less than 13 after that. Their largest lead was 27 points.

"We’re playing good ball right now, both offensively and, more important, defensively," said LeBron James, who had 17 points, four rebounds and rebounds assists. "When we defend, we’re a very, very good team."

The Heat remained percentage points ahead of Indiana for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers defeated Detroit 101-94.

Heat vs. Bucks

"Especially right now, we need to be playing our game," said Chris Bosh, who scored 15 points. "We need to play good defense. We need to get good looks of offense and just play a complete game every time we go out there.

"We know what’s ahead for us and we know the habits we need to have down pat."

The Heat’s latest victory came two weeks to the day before the regular season ends.

Miami again played without Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Greg Oden (back) and Ray Allen (flu). Wade and Oden sat out their fourth straight game; Allen missed his fifth in a row.

"Ray went through the shootaround and went through is whole (pregame) routine and his legs started to feel weak — so he’s not superhuman," said coach Erik Spoelstra, who had used the adjective to describe his veteran sharpshooter before the game.

Mario Chalmers (14 points) was the only other Miami player to score in double figures.

Ramon Sessions scored 19 points to lead the Bucks, who never led. Fort Lauderdale’s Brandon Knight had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists.

The game was such a blowout, James did not return after sinking a 27-foot 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

Photo gallery

"It’s always beneficial," he said of his short night. "We put together some very good games as of late and I’ve been able to rest in the fourth quarter, and some of our big-minute guys have been able to rest."

THE TURNING POINT

The Heat went ahead 24-13 following the opening tip-off and Milwaukee never got closer than 14 in the second half.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

It’t not fair to single out one player in such a blowout, but James once again did it all and provided several exciting slams in his 29:21.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Heat committed just 10 turnovers for the game.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Heat will play the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third of five straight home games on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.