Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 116-108 loss at the Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee's' Giannis Antetokounmpo, shoots against Miami's Rodney McGruder during the first half of Friday's game in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Milwaukee’s’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, shoots against Miami’s Rodney McGruder during the first half of the Bucks victory Friday in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)


The Miami Heat looked like a team that had been on the road for 12 days.

Wrapping up a season-long six-game road trip in Milwaukee on Friday, Miami offered little resistance to the Bucks, dropping a 116-108 decision in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score indicates.

The Heat never led, falling behind by 21 points in the second quarter and never really getting back into the game despite a couple of fourth quarter runs that cut the deficit back to single digits.

The Heat (11-30) were dominated in all areas as Milwaukee (20-18) atoned for its worst loss of the season, 96-73, in Miami in early November.

Miami had six players in double figures, led byGoran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside with 19 points each.

The Heat close the road trip 1-5, its only win coming in Sacramento.

“It will be good just to get home and see our families and friends,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It feels like we’ve been out for awhile. We didn’t get the results we wanted but we grew. I liked what I saw and it definitely was something we can build on.”

Here are our five takeaways from Miami’s 10th loss in its last 11 games.

Disappearing defense: The Bucks got off to a sizzling start with 42 first quarter points on .583 shooting and breezed from there. The total was the most points scored in a quarter by Milwaukee and the most allowed by the Heat in any quarter this season. The Bucks shot 50 percent for the game and finished with 28 assists and 11 turnovers.

“We have to come out harder,” said Luke Babbitt, who had his season – and Heat – high 16 points. “The first half was what got us in trouble tonight. Our second half was good but our margins are too small as a team we don’t have a big enough margin of error to come out like that.”

Battle of the boards goes to the Bucks: Milwaukee dominated the boards, outrebounding the Heat, 46-27, including 13-4 on the offensive boards. Miami’s total was its lowest of the season. Reserve Greg Monroe led all players with 11 rebounds with Giannis Antetokounmpo chipping in with eight. Milwaukee entered ranked No. 23 in the league in rebounding, averaging 42.5 per game.

“Yes there were some defensive breakdowns but more than anything what hurt us in the first half was the offensive rebounds, the hustle plays and the transition and those are all effort and energy,” Spoelstra said. “You never want to get beat on another man’s effort.”

Whiteside comes on late: After his sterling 28-point, 20-rebound effort against the Warriors on Tuesday, Spoelstra made it clear now the challenge is for Whiteside to bring that same effort every night and Friday that effort was not there from the start. Whiteside got off to a slow start before finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds, much of that coming in the fourth quarter. He was removed a little more than eight minutes into the game after he was the only Heat player not to cross halfcourt on a Bucks fast break and at times was frustrated with the officials, something that often affects his performance.

Waiters still struggling: Heat guard Dion Waiters is having a tough time getting rid of the rust after missing 20 games with a torn muscle in his groin area. Waiters had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting against Milwaukee and now is just 17-of-57 (.298) from the floor in his five games since returning from the injury.

“He’s out there playing. … and we’ll build on that,” Spoelstra said. “It was interesting watching that last Milwaukee game. That was right before he got hurt. That was him at his best basketball with us. We’ll work to get him back to that level first and then see if we can continue to improve him as the season goes on.”

Mid-way point: The Heat reached the mid-way point of the season in Milwaukee. Miami starts the second half with a four-game home stand Tuesday against James Harden and the Houston Rockets and plays eight of its next 10 at home. The second half schedule is much more forgiving. Of Miami’s 41 remaining games, 23 are at home and its longest road trip is four games during the second week of February when it plays at Minnesota, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The Heat does not return to the Pacific or Mountain time zones this season, with their farthest road game a trip to Minneapolis.

“It will be real big to get back in Miami, get back in front of our home crowd and try to get a run,” Whiteside said.

[With no Josh Richardson, Willie Reed, Heat back down to 10 healthy bodies for game against Bucks]

[One national host calls Heat ‘a mess’ and ‘irrelevant,’ doubts they can rebuild quickly]

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