Heat Check: Miami denied chance to close gap with Bucks in thrilling fashion

In an important game with playoff implications, the Miami Heat allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to go on a huge run in the fourth quarter in a heartbreaking 89-88 loss on the road Tuesday night.

Miami was in control in the second half and led by as many as 16 points early in the fourth, but they scored just nine points in the final quarter.

It was a game of runs early, with the Heat going on a 11-2 run to finish the first quarter and secure a 27-22 lead. The Heat opened up a double-digit advantage in the second quarter, but the Bucks responded with a 19-4 run to take the lead. Goran Dragic led his team back with eight points in the quarter and they weathered the storm at the end of the first half to restore their lead.

The Heat’s backcourt played well in the first half, with Dwyane Wade scoring 11 points and Mario Chalmers adding nine off the bench. But they also lost Hassan Whiteside for the night due to a laceration on his hand in the second quarter that required 10 stitches.

With Michael Beasley in Whiteside’s place, the Heat used a 23-6 run in the third quarter to open up their second double-digit lead of the night.

It all fell apart in the final 12 minutes, with the Bucks scoring 14 straight in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 85. Their offense was stagnant with little passing and players taking turns trying to single-handedly break down Milwaukee’s defense.

Wade finally scored off of a broken play with a minute left in the game after a scoring drought that stretched for several minutes. Bucks forward Khris Middleton then committed a turnover while penetrating in the lane, and after a Wade miss, Udonis Haslem was able to preserve the slim two-point lead by blocking Zaza Pachulia’s point-blank shot attempt.

Unfortunately, Wade missed a free throw that would have made it a four-point game with 17 seconds left, and the Heat were unable to secure multiple rebounds that could have saved the game. Beasley lost a jump ball against the smaller Jerryd Bayless, which gave the Bucks one final opportunity to win it. Middleton’s 3-pointer as time expired secured their comeback victory.

Heat vs. Bucks

The loss kept the Heat from closing the gap between them and the Bucks for the sixth seed.

THE TURNING POINT

Milwaukee’s 18-3 run to end the game put an end to their six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Pachulia always played well against the Heat dating back to his days with the Atlanta Hawks, and he came through once again with 14 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and a block.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Heat led by double digits in each of the four games against the Bucks but lost all of them.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Heat visit the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.