The Milwaukee Bucks, after playing elite defense last year, have been relatively middle-of-the-pack defensively thus far this season. On Sunday in Miami, though, Scott Skiles's charges fulfilled his fun-busting, party-pooping fantasies with a lockdown outing the Dwyane Wade-less Heat, compensating for their own offensive struggles in the process. Both teams shot under 40 percent on the evening, which must have made Skiles just purse his lips and mutter in delight. Milwaukee won 91-82 in the end.
Milwaukee's second unit forwards, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova received the brunt of the frontcourt minutes and did a splendid job of forcing LeBron James and Chris Bosh toward help and nagging them into difficult shots. Both Miami stars played slightly sub-average games, with James scoring 28 points and tossing five assists (13 rebounds, though) and Bosh scoring 23 points but turning the ball over 8 times. Brisk rotations by the other Bucks held the weary Miami supporting cast completely in check. The non-Bosh, non-Bron members of the Heat (Thought: Might individual Heat players be called "Degrees", or even "Joules"?. Nevermind.) shot 9-35 collectively, and the team as a whole surrendered 21 turnovers to quick Milwaukee feet and hands.
While the Bucks shot even worse than the Heat did, they managed a lot more attempts because of those forced turnovers and proved remarkably resilient down the stretch. Two deep Stephen Jackson threes in the closing seconds of the third and opening moments of the fourth (his only downtown makes out of eight attempts) bought the Bucks a lead they'd never relinquish. One Heat run after another got nipped by a Milwaukee response, be it a second effort, a trip to the free throw line, an inside bucket (Milwaukee outscored Miami 42-26 in the paint), or Brandon Jennings's only three-point make of the night (in 10 attempts!).
Despite those sour numbers from downtown and 5-20 shooting overall, Jennings led the Bucks in scoring by getting to the line and converting once he'd arrived there (11-12). Jennings got (and provided for) considerably more help than James and Bosh did, with Andrew Bogut adding 13 points, Ilyasova notching an efficient 16 on eight shots off the bench, and that bench as a whole scoring 39 of the Bucks' 91 points.
Milwaukee unquestionably won Sunday's game on the defensive end, though, and that effort marked both their second straight excellent defensive outing and second consecutive road win after opening the season with eight straight losses away from the Bradley Center. They now find themselves 6-9 overall, while the Heat fell to 11-5 on the season, though this was their first loss without Dwyane Wade in uniform.