The Milwaukee Bucks scored the first basket of the game, a layup by rookie point guard Nate Wolters, to go up 2 – 0. That was the closest they would ever get, as the Heat soon took a lead they would not relinquish on their way to 118 -95 blowout over the undermanned Bucks.
Miami was in need of a victory to put Saturday’s buzzer-beating loss to the Boston Celtics well behind them. Milwaukee, with multiple players missing games to injury, has a roster of 11 new players held together by surgical tape. In other words, they were the perfect solution to the Heat’s early season woes.
Mario Chalmers abused Walters early, scoring 10 points in the first period. LeBron James added 9 points and Miami closed the period leading 32 – 23. But Miami’s season-long inability to defend the perimeter was again an issue, as Milwaukee hit four three-pointers to keep the lead in single digits.
Without the services of Ray Allen (flu) and Udonis Haslem (back spasms), the Heat needed an offensive boost off the bench. They certainly got one from the electric Michael Beasley, as he fired up the crowd after dunking a lob pass from Dwyane Wade (8 points), and hitting a shot from behind the arc. Rashard Lewis (7 points on 3-for-3 shooting) and Chris Andersen (8 points) also continued to be productive, and the lead built up to 16.
Ex-Heat forward Caron Butler hit two from long range and was the only Bucks starter to score double-digit points (10) for the game. Milwaukee closed the half down 56 – 45.
James exploded offensively in the third quarter, knocking down four three-pointers in the period and finishing the game with 33 points. James’ energy was a certainly a lift for Miami this game, but his regaining MVP-type form provides the long-term boost the Heat needed after losing three of their first seven games. Said James afterward,
I’m almost there, I’m getting my spring back.
Wade seemed a step slower tonight, only attempting seven field goals and finishing the game with 6 turnovers. He did everything else for Miami, though, adding 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 31 minutes.
But this night belonged to James and Beasley, whose 19 points outscored all Bucks players. The two players provided the best highlights of the game, attacking the rim and finishing shots with authority. Beasley’s defense has clearly improved since last season, and afterward, James lauded his new teammate:
I’ve taken Michael under my wing. He’s just so talented and it’s great for him to succeed.
With Miami’s bench once thought to be a glaring weakness of the Big 3 era, Beasley’s development bodes well for the Heat as they pursue their third straight championship. Miami (5 – 3) continues their homestand on Thursday, as they take on the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 P.M. at the American Airlines Arena.
- Gary Neal and John Henson both added 18 points for Milwaukee off the bench. Butler and rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo (11 points) were the only other Bucks players in double-digits.
- Miami has scored over 100 points in each of their 8 games this season.
- The Heat also won the rebounding edge for the first time all season, grabbing 40 rebounds over the Bucks’ 34 boards.
- James Jones (3 points), Joel Anthony (2 points) and Roger Mason Jr. all played during the fourth quarter.