(Photo: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

Backed Down: Miami Heat 114, Milwaukee Bucks 96

(Photo: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

During the lockout this summer, there was talk of LeBron James using the extra time to work on his low-post game.  The Bradley Center provided a showcase for those talents.

James scored 35 points on 16-of-21 shooting, while pummeling the Bucks with an assortment of turnarounds and back downs.  He threw in a few jaw-dropping dunks for good measure, too.

Unlike so many of their losses, the Bucks didn’t give this game away. Miami simply demonstrated that they could make a higher-percentage of their shots than the Bucks could.  Through the first three quarters, the numbers for each team were eerily identical in many respects (MIL/MIA):   62/62 FG, 27/29 rebounds, 17/16 assists, 18/15 free throw attempts.

The difference, of course, was that the Heat made 36 of their 62 shots, while the Bucks only made 25.  In addition to LeBron hitting his shots, the Bucks missed their second chances, as their tip-ins and putbacks consistently rimmed out.

The Bucks lost out on the chance to complete a season sweep of the Heat, although they did win the season series by a 2-1 margin.

MVP: Carlos Delfino

Every three or four games, Delfino has a game where he is simply ON.

Last night, Carlos scored 24 points (5-8 on 3 pt. FG) to go with 4 assists and 2 steals.  He played an excellent game, and early on, he was defending well, too.

It would be nice to see this Carlos more frequently, thought, wouldn’t it?

On any other night, Delfino’s performance would be memorable.  However, his Heat small forward counterpart was slightly more effective.

LVP: Drew Gooden (2/12 FG)

Gooden really didn’t play badly; he just could not hit a shot.  For all the crap given to Drew in this space (for defensive reasons, especially of the pick-and-roll kind), we do take the accuracy of his jump shot for granted at times.  Games like this one serve as a powerful reminder not to do that.

Epitome of the Bucks’ Season, Part 1:

Down by six points with less that 40 seconds remaining, the Raptors fouled Stephen Jackson intentionally to stop the clock, hoping for missed free throws and a regained possession.

Jackson obliged with the first part, thumping both free throws of the rim.

The rebound floated harmlessly between two Raptors big men.  Then, darting in seemingly from out of nowhere, Jennings split between the two Toronto players and stole the ball.  It was an artful, elegant basketball play.

His reward?  After being fouled, Jennings went to the line to clang two free throws misses of his own. Egad.

On the night, Jennings still disappeared at times, but there were enough sporadic glimpses of energy to see that he played with more engagement than he did against the Suns.

This should please you: The first quarter

The Bucks came out with a gem of a game for the first twelve minutes.  Unfortunately, the Heat absorbed Milwaukee’s initial salvo, and they only trailed by 3 points going into the second quarter.

The strategy at the outset was to overplay Miami’s entry passes.  Livingston and Delfino, in particular, used active hands to disrupt the offensive sets of the Heat.  The Bucks won the turnover battle by a margin of 6-1.

As they did all night, though, the Heat made shots and the Bucks did not — defense and turnovers be damned.

This should leave you shaking your head: Epitome of the Bucks’ Season, Part 3

(WARNING: Video includes sound.)

On first glance, LeBron makes an impressive play, one that effectively nullified the Bradley Center crowd and ended a game effort by the Bucks before the fourth quarter even began.

But then, watch it again.  How does the NBA make this tripe the #1 play of their top-10 countdown when he takes five steps on his way to the hoop.  His last dribble is 27 feet away from the hoop for crying out loud!

Final Verdict: The Heat are a better team than the Bucks, but everyone already knew that, right?

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Tags: Carlos Delfino Drew Gooden Lebron James Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks

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