Heat Check: Miami stopped by Bucks for third time this season
MIAMI — The Miami Heat first lost Dwyane Wade to a strained right hamstring, then they got beat down the stretch 109-102 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
The Bucks had already proven to be worthy adversaries to the Heat and have beaten them in all three of their matchups this season.
Both teams played evenly for most of the game, with each building up double-digit leads that were quickly erased. The Bucks gradually built a 10-point lead through excellent ball movement and floor spacing midway through the second quarter, but Miami got right back into the game with a quick 9-0 run. Miami took the lead at the start of the third quarter after a 12-2 run led by Mario Chalmers, but the Bucks came back and tied the game up at 79.
Miami made up for the absence of starters Luol Deng (calf) and Chris Andersen (elbow, back) on the strength of balanced scoring from their five starters, all of them reaching double figures by the third quarter. But with Wade out for the second half, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside and Chalmers came out aggressive to get back into the game by attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers.
Chalmers was strong for a second game in a row and got to the free throw line all night long with his aggressive play. He was efficient, surpassing 20 points early in the fourth quarter even though he had only taken seven field goal attempts. Danny Granger started in place of Deng and had 11 first half points before finishing with 14. Whiteside had a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds but was limited by the Bucks’ size in the paint and missed several easy baskets without any blocks.
Miami would eventually lose their way on offense with too many standalone jumpers and not enough penetration and player movement. The Bucks would eventually wear them down in the fourth quarter by sticking to their game plan and relentlessly spreading the ball around to find the best shot. They shot 60 percent and recorded five assists on nine of their field goals in the final quarter.
"Their defense picked up," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We were able to get into the paint there for a while to get the 10-point lead. (Chalmers) was able to shake free and break the defense down. Then Rio started to get fatigued, he had to come out and then they were able to go on a run where we couldn’t get a stop."
THE TURNING POINT
After a Bosh jumper to bring Miami within four points midway through the fourth quarter, Milwaukee went on a 7-0 run over the course of the next three minutes to put them in position to get the road win.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
The Bucks may have lost Larry Sanders to suspension and rookie sensation Jabari Parker for the season with a torn ACL, but their depth has seen them through. Seven players reached double digits in scoring — including four reserves — and their bench outscored the Heat reserves 54-13.
"We have a lot veterans on that bench with guys that have been five, six, seven, eight year in the league," Bucks guard Jared Dudley said. "We are all secure in ourselves and you can see on the court we will give up a good shot to get a great shot."
No player finished with more than 17 points.
STAT OF THE GAME
Milwaukee became the first opposing team to shoot better then 50 percent from the field against Miami in 2015.
Miami hosts the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at 8 p.m.