With a little less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, a frustrated Dwyane Wade, seemingly with little room to maneuver in the paint, dribbled the ball off his leg and out of bounds.
Seconds later, after Wade took a seat on the bench, referee Bill Kennedy whistled him for a technical foul.
It was another one of those ugly offensive nights for the Miami Heat.
Shorthanded at point guard with starter Goran Dragic and backup Beno Udrih out for the second game in a row, Miami’s offense never found much rhythm and the Heat was blitzed by the Milwaukee Bucks 91-79 in a rare January home game at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“Basically we saw the same thing you saw. It was a pretty flat performance,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We don’t want to make excuses for the injuries. Everybody is going through something at this time of the year. We got guys gutting it out. We’ve got guys that are out that are trying to get back in. But the NBA train doesn’t wait for you.”
Coming off a 2-4 West Coast trip, the Heat has little time to wallow. In the midst of playing 14 of 16 on the road, Miami begins a five-game, nine-day East Coast trek Wednesday in Washington.
Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside each scored 23 points and Whiteside grabbed 18 rebounds. Wade scored just two points in 21 minutes and had four of Miami’s 13 assists. Miami shot a season-worst 36.5 percent.
Bosh said pregame he knows teams are looking at the Heat now minus its two pure point guards and “salivating.”
Much like Sunday’s 25-point loss at Oklahoma City that got away from Miami in the second half, the Bucks (19-25) turned a 51-45 lead into a laugher with an 18-2 run midway through the third quarter.
Khris Middleton, who trained with Wade this past summer, finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead Milwaukee, which has won four of its past five games.
Miami (23-19) turned the ball over 16 times — two fewer than the Bucks. Since Dragic strained his left calf in a Jan. 11 loss at Golden State, the Heat has led the NBA in turnovers (18.8 per game). Before Dragic was injured, Miami averaged 13.7 turnovers — fifth-fewest in the league. The Heat is 13-2 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent and 10-17 when it doesn’t.
“We’re just not playing our style of basketball offensively,” Bosh said. “There’s only so much defense you can play — fighting through screens, do certain things, and even they were missing a lot of coverages. No matter what happens I guess we obviously have to kind of work on our mental toughness because we’re kind of weak in that area.”
Tyler Johnson, who started at point guard for the Heat for the second game in a row, missed all six of his shots, turned it over three times, scored only three points and had just one assist in 33 minutes.
Rookie Josh Richardson, who replaced Johnson four minutes into the game after Johnson picked up his second foul, provided one of the Heat’s few early highlights when he dribbled down the middle of the lane and produced a one-handed dunk over forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was Richardson’s only basket.
What can the Heat do to survive without its point guards for now?
“We just have to figure out a way to play together more and not shoot as many hero shots and move the ball around and move it to guys when they can do something with it,” Wade said. “Injuries make it tough. I’ve been in the league 13 years. I dealt with it worse than this last year. It’s not about that. Obviously when you have high hopes for a team but you don’t have your whole team out there it’s tough on everyone game to game, night to night.
“We just got to figure it out, whether the storm. Hopefully we’ll get some guys back, see our full unit out there soon and give ourselves a chance.”
▪ The Heat honored the late Glenn Frey after the first timeout of the game by playing The Heat Is On and posting a photo of him and an inspirational quote on the big screens inside the arena. Frey, a singer, songwriter and founding member of the rock band the Eagles, died Monday at 67.