The Milwaukee Bucks were lambs being led to the slaughter in their Tuesday night blowout loss to the Miami Heat.
Following a 111-110 loss to the Boston Celtics that prompted a defensive-based tirade from LeBron James, the Heat were foaming at the mouth for a weak opponent they could wreak their fury and frustration against.
Cue a home game against a Bucks team that was playing without Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova.
Just what the doctor ordered.
The Heat moved to 5-3 on the year following an easy 118-95 win, coming on the heels of a home loss where victory was lost in the final tenths of a second. A change in effort on the defensive end was evident as the Bucks were held to shooting 42 percemt, while coughing up the ball 18 times.
Milwaukee’s point total was supported by a 33-point fourth quarter when the game was already well out of reach. Despite scoring nearly 100 points, only 30 of those points came in the painted area. They were forced into taking 30 three-pointers, converting 11.
The Heat still had a fair share of miscues on defense, especially in a first half where they allowed 45 points and 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc, but were able to turn it on in the second half to stretch an 11-point halftime lead to 22 heading into the fourth quarter.
The 28-17 third quarter edge was heralded by LeBron James, who had as many points in the third as the entire Bucks team and finished with an efficient 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Milwaukee did themselves no favor by trotting out the likes of Caron Butler and Khris Middleton to limit James, who had nine points in the opening frame.
The 32-25 edge Miami held with 11:14 left in the second was as close the Bucks would get, as the game would be blown open by a 14-3 run that stretched the lead to 16 not even halfway through the second.
It was in the third quarter, however, where things really started to get out of hand. After a pair of Zaza Pachulia free throws cut the Heat lead to eight early in the third, Miami would run off a 19-6 run, led by LeBron’s three three-pointers.
Oh, and this happened along the way:
Naturally, LeBron’s run was capped off by an unguarded dunk off the perimeter. His personal 8-0 run quickly turned a simmering 13-point lead into an insurmountable 21-point edge in a span of two minutes. James enabling the big run and then the Heat bench keeping the lead above 20 in the fourth allowed LeBron to sit out the entire fourth.
The Bucks committed six turnovers in the game-breaking third.
Miami was able to thrive on the defensive end without having to sacrifice anything on offense, neither. They still shot 58 percent from the field overall and 52 percent from beyond the arc on 23 attempts. They were mere percentage points away from having a higher field-goal percentage than free throw percentage.
Perhaps the only negative statistic of the game was the Heat shooting less than 70 percent from the line for a third consecutive game.
Oh, and how have I gone this long without talking about Michael Beasley? Not only did he efficiently score 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, he also made two of his three three-point attempts, threw down an alley-oop, had a dunk down the lane, evoked a technical foul out of O.J. Mayo, and actually made some of the better passes the Heat had on the night.
Beasley had three assists on the night. Miami had 29 as a team and were led by Mario Chalmers’ seven.
Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers playing well, while Dwyane Wade only scores eight points on seven shots in a 23-point win? Didn’t see much of that during Beasley’s first stint in Miami. It helps to have added LeBron James since then.
Miami only had four players score in double-figures, but had eight players score at least seven points. It was a top-heavy, yet well-balanced offensive performance, if that makes any sense.
The Heat, who played without Ray Allen (sick) and Udonis Haslem (back) tonight, welcome the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.