MILWAUKEE - This one started promisingly enough, with Hassan Whiteside sinking a couple of jumpers and Justise Winslow continuing to play point guard with aplomb.
Then it all unraveled. Quickly. And embarrassingly.
Down by two midway through the first quarter, the Milwaukee Bucks then unleashed a 47-21 avalanche on the Heat and Miami never again drew closer than 18 in a 124-86 Bucks romp on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.
Milwaukee led by 24 at the half and by 30 after three, then built the margin to as much as 38 in Miami’s most lopsided loss of the season.
Only Whiteside (19 points, eight rebounds) and Winslow (19 points, five assists) did anything of note for Miami, which opened the second half of its schedule with a dismal performance.
The Heat’s defense, a strength in recent weeks, was uncharacteristically porous, allowing Milwaukee to shoot 51 percent and 10 for 19 on three-pointers in a 69-point first half. The Bucks closed at 50 percent from the field and 43.6 on threes (17 for 39).
The Heat, meanwhile, shot 8 for 34 on threes (23.5 percent) and committed 18 turnovers.
But it wasn’t the Bucks’ best player doing most of the damage early. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored only five in the first half and 12 for the game. And Milwaukee’s second best player, Khris Middleton, scored only 11. Instead, the Heat was beaten down by Eric Bledsoe (17), Malcolm Brogdon (16) and a bunch of reserves.
The Heat went 11 deep in the first half, but couldn’t overcome the lax defense or subpar performances from several, including 3 for 11 shooting night on a six-point night for Josh Richardson, 2 for 8 shooting from Rodney McGruder and 1 for 7 from Kelly Olynyk.