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The Heat go cold at the wrong time, lose big to the Bucks

Dec 30, 2012, 12:44 AM EDT

Bucks guard Jennings drives to the basket against Heat center Harrellson in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee

Dwyane Wade returned, but Miami’s road woes traveled right along with him to Milwaukee.

After losing to Detroit and the Will Bynum show last night, Miami collapsed in the fourth quarter tonight, falling to the Bucks, 104-85.

Believe it or not, Miami appeared to be in firm control with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter. LeBron James had just hit an impossible fading baseline bank shot from a tough angle, and then had followed it with another tough pull-up bank shot. Miami’s lead was at nine, the Bucks had fallen in love with the long two, and it just felt like one of those classic Heat victories where they turn it on late and blow out their opponent.

Instead, the exact opposite happened. The Bucks went on an improbable 33-5 run in 10 minutes of game time, getting huge offensive contributions from an unlikely source an Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (19 points) and undervalued shooter in Mike Dunleavy (18 points). After defending against the 3 pretty well all game, the Heat let up four 3-pointers during the big run, and each shot seemed to deflate the Heat balloon a little further.

On the other side of the ball, LeBron James and company couldn’t seem to avoid the shotblocking of Larry Sanders and Mbah a Moute. More often than not, Miami’s possessions resulted in turnovers or turned away layups at the rim, and that was the spark the previously dormant Bucks offense needed to get rolling.

It’s not often you see a team of Miami’s caliber completely collapse in the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee’s defense rendered every player not named Wade or James completely irrelevant on the night. Chris Bosh was flustered by the length and shot-altering abilities of Milwaukee’s long frontline, and took 14 shots only to score 12 points. Mario Chalmers was a complete non-factor offensively, and his attempt to take Jennings’ head off on a fast break was probably the best defense he displayed all night. Jennings poured in 25 points on his usual diet of tough pull-up jumpers and slicing drives to the rack.

Somehow, Miami’s bench was even more ineffective than Bosh and Chalmers, mustering up only 15 combined points, two assists, and no steals — numbers Bucks’ bench ace Mike Dunleavy bested all on his own.

Miami is obviously not your average team, but they’ve been exactly that on the road. Now just 6-6 away from the AmericanAirlines Arena, you have to wonder where the Heat would be sitting if they had, say, the early season schedule the Denver Nuggets had.

It’s probably not time to sound the alarm just yet, though. Beating a tough Milwaukee team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back isn’t the easiest of tasks, but losing in this fashion does show a little bit more vulnerability than we were accustomed to seeing last season. Fact is, Miami is a middle-of-the-road defensive team right now (14th in efficiency) that struggles with deep squads who can shoot from the perimeter. And guess what? The two teams directly below them in the Eastern Conference standings fit that bill pretty darn well.

Miami is obviously the heavy favorite going forward even with some of their defensive issues, but the journey back to the NBA Finals might not be the cakewalk most thought it would be after all.

  1. money2long - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    isn’t this the same team that was the tipping point to avery johnson’s departure? interestingly enough, they go out and beat the heat. go figure.

  2. themagicfanguy - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    SKIIEEZ EZ FAALLING!!!

  3. buffalowned - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    games like this and last night are why i hate the nba regular season…everyone places emphasis on these games like they mean anything. bulls were the 1 seed the last 2 years how did that work out for them? if you think the heat are giving 100% in the regular season you’re insane. it’s not good for the game but that’s what its come to when teams know they can coast in the regular season and turn it on in the playoffs. the season is too long and david stern knows it but he wouldn’t dare reduce it and lose money

    • dko83 - Dec 30, 2012 at 3:07 AM

      Games like this are why I love the NBA regular season. Teams that have about 90% less talent/stars show up and humble them. How do you have any clue that the Heat weren’t trying tonight? But yeah, the season is too long, pretty much everyone agrees on that.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 30, 2012 at 7:57 AM

      based on your theory the washington wizards will have a great postseason.

      can’t wait!

      Miami is not a lock for a repeat.

  4. progress2011 - Dec 30, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    LBJ is back in Cleveland !!!

    Wade’s play is very inconsistent and he is a big distraction, he is very injury prone and now he is pouting and playing dirty !

    The Heat and their “Position-less” team will only float in the regular season and then only against teams that don’t have a true power forward or a true center.

    They have ZERO chance of beating The Clips, Thunder or San Antonio this year, in a 7 game series.

    I’ve been saying since the beginning of the season…Pat Riley better get on the phone and throw his weight around to get a trade:

    Package Mike Miller, James Jones, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier and get several quality or serviceable 7 Footers (plural).

    The Heat don’t necessarily need a center to score a bunch of points, just Big – Agile bodies. Guys that are a legit 6’11″ or 7’0″, that don’t have 2 left feet, can grab a few boards, take up a Bunch of space in the middle, run the floor and give hard fouls, until they foul out !

    Someone like Samuel Dalembert, Spencer Hawes (7’1″ – 245), Darryl Watkins (6’11 – 258), Alabi Solomon (7’1″ – 245), Greg Monroe (6’11″ 260), Johan Petro (7’0″-247) , Desagana Diop (7’0″- 280 ) , Nene (6’11″- 250), Jason Thompson (6’11″- 250),

    The perfect fits would be Joakim Noah (6’11″ – 235) and/or Anderson Varejao (6’11″- 260) or even Javale Mcgee

  5. cantonbound13 - Dec 30, 2012 at 6:00 AM

    Wade didn’t flop enough.

  6. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Can’t believe the NBA doesn’t have the Heat playing tonight also. What. 3 games in 4 nights was fine on Friday. 4 games in 5 nights was fine last night. Why not go for for 5 games in 6 nights?

  7. jameskocian - Dec 30, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    IMHO The Bucks continue to ascend as a team on the rise. After winning 3/4 against the Celtic’s, the Bucks had a nice win against the Nets (that sealed the aforementioned Avery Johnson’s job), and now the Heat.

    Although it’s clear to see the Bucks are an improving team with playoff aspirations, it will be even more enjoyable when they follow up their convincing wins against top-tier opponents by beating the sub-par teams (Cleveland, after Brooklyn; New Orleans (12/3) after Boston, and Charlotte (11/19) after Indiana).

  8. charlescub80 - Dec 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Wade = The Nutcracker

  9. eaglesooneru2 - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Not a heat hater or fan but they were crowned as an easy choice for repeat and I think things won’t be as easy as most thought. A drought at this time of year is nothing to get too concerned about but its a telling sign that they are capable of struggling as much as they have been. The Knicks, thunder, clippers and a few other teams are more than capable of winning a series against them if they think they can just show up and that be enough

  10. mazblast - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Sitting on his velvet (or porcelain) throne in NYC, David Stern is unhappy. Neither of his designated finalists for the year, the Heat and the Lakers, are playing very well. Little Caesar will have his way, so he’ll dispatch his minions to make some changes. Look for a lopsided trade or two, or perhaps a change of heart by the officials after the facts of life (“Do you really want to spend the rest of the year doing Wizards-Cavs and Timberwolves-Kings games?”) are explained to them.

  11. tiennguyen645 - Dec 30, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Is not fun to watch any more all sport control by Las Vegas

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