If LeBron James and the Miami Heat were hoping to wash off the stink of an embarrassing loss to the Detroit Pistons, they sure didn't show it against the Milwaukee Bucks, who took advantage of some sloppy Heat play in a 104-85 victory over the defending champs Saturday night.
Early turnovers and poor shooting put Miami at a 12-point disadvantage going into the half, and after a solid third quarter, the Heat gave up the ghost in the fourth. Milwaukee dominated in the final period, outscoring the Heat 35-14.
Nobody likes superstar apologists, but the fact is that Miami's Big Three were not at fault in this one. Sure, LeBron James kicked the ball around a little too much and Chris Bosh had a forgettable shooting night, but the Heat role players deserve the blame for Miami's second consecutive loss.
Brandon Jennings abused Mario Chalmers, who only countered with five points on 1-of-6 shooting, Shane Battier was a no-show and the Heat bench can't be described without the use of some select four-letter words.
Continuing a disturbing trend, the Heat relied on their ability to flip the intensity switch on and off as needed. Unfortunately for Miami, it was only in the "on" position during the third quarter. In the other three periods, the Bucks feasted on lazy passes and consistently won the hustle battle.
A couple of road losses aren't the end of the world, but Miami's back-to-back failures are certainly going to have Heat fans talking about the ongoing issues with the bench. Let's start the discussion with some grades.