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Road bumps continue as Miami Heat stumbles against Milwaukee Bucks

Miami has played two really good quarters of basketball in the past two nights.

Unfortunately for the Heat, they didn’t come in the same game.

On Friday, the Heat steamrolled the Pistons in the first before losing by 10.

On Saturday, Miami rebounded from a double-digit halftime deficit with a huge third quarter — only to watch the Bucks blow past it in the fourth en route to a 104-85 win at the Bradley Center.

“Milwaukee,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “kicked our butt. They were the better team.”

Said LeBron James: “We played good ball in the third, put the pressure on them. But then they put it back on us. They got back into their comfort zone in the fourth.”

The Heat has lost two in a row for the second time this season — although this is the first time Miami has lost consecutive games by double figures.

The Bucks were outscored 27-13 by Miami in the third. Spoelstra gave James a breather — he usually plays through the third quarter — and the Heat lost its edge without the reigning league MVP on the court.

Milwaukee broke out on a 23-5 run to open the fourth and led by 16 when James was called for an offensive foul with 5:22 left. James led all scorers with 26 points — including 14 in the third.

“I was dog tired,” James said. “I was pushing the pace, trying to get us going in the third. Every time we got a rebound, I was getting us up the floor. I was feeling pretty good, but I went 10 straight minutes of just burning out. I would have been cheating my teammates had I stayed out there.”

The good news for Miami was James went over the 20-point mark for the 28th time this season. That tied Boston’s Kevin McHale (1986-87) for second place for most consecutive 20-plus games to start a season behind George Gervin.

James now takes aim at Gervin’s record of 45 consecutive 20-point games to start a season. Gervin did it to start the 1981-82 season.

James holds the franchise record with 33 consecutive 20-point games dating to last season.

James has scored at least 20 in 49 consecutive games if last season’s playoffs are counted.

Yet thanks to the Bucks’ fourth quarter, few were talking about James’ scoring.

“It happened so quickly. It seemed like a 20-0 run in which we couldn’t gather ourselves,” Spoelstra said.

Although the Pistons might not have gotten the Heat’s attention after a big second quarter Friday night, the Bucks sure did Saturday.

The Heat responded to Milwaukee’s double-digit halftime lead by going on a tear with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh outscoring the Bucks by 11.

The Heat blew past Milwaukee in the third quarter (James, Wade and Bosh got 24 of the team’s 27 points) as the Heat erased a 12-point deficit.

In the fourth, however, Miami didn’t get that kind of offensive production from its All-Star trio and, as has been the case this weekend, didn’t get much help from anyone else.

Of Miami’s starting five, the Big 3 ended up with 62 points. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers — who was called for a flagrant foul in the fourth after wrapping up Brandon Jennings — scored a total of eight.

“It’s always been tough for us to play them,” Wade said. “It’s always a battle. They did their job and used their energy in the fourth quarter. They took a lead, and we couldn’t come back.”

In the fourth, James had just two points before finding the bench for garbage time as Milwaukee was rolling. Wade had six in the fourth, but Bosh was held scoreless and Miami offered up little else.

The Heat, now 4-1 in the second game of a back-to-back set, concludes its four-game road trip Monday as it plays the Magic for the first time this season.

“Over the past 48 hours, things have not gone the way we’ve wanted them to,” Spoelstra said.

• Miami was without forward Udonis Haslem after he came down hard on his left shoulder early in Friday’s game. With Haslem out, Spoelstra turned to the lightly used Josh Harrellson in the second quarter.

Harrellson played 8:18 in the second quarter — more than he has played in any game this season (previous high: 4:02 vs. Brooklyn) — and almost as much as he had played the entire season.

By the end of the game, Spoelstra emptied his bench — although he kept Rashard Lewis on it for the fifth game in a row.

Miami’s lineup with three minutes left: Harrellson, Norris Cole, James Jones, Joel Anthony and Terrel Harris.

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