- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Short-handed and a little disheveled with the ball, the Miami Heat finished off their three-game swing through the Midwest with a sterling performance on the other end of the floor.

The Heat shut down the Bucks with defense Saturday night as Chris Bosh scored 14 points, LeBron James had 13 and Miami throttled Milwaukee 88-67, holding an opponent to a season low in points.

“In the playoffs, we’re going to have to rely on our defense,” Bosh said.

James Jones added 10 for Miami in place of star guard Dwyane Wade, sidelined a second straight game with a sore hamstring. The Heat also played without Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers.

Didn’t matter against the team with the NBA’s worst record. Milwaukee tried to match Miami’s energy, but couldn’t keep with the more talented opponent - even one without two All-Stars.

Defense was the difference. The Heat led 46-29 at halftime and held the Bucks to a season low for points in a half and in a game.

The Bucks shot 34 percent, the fourth straight time that Miami held a foe to under 40 percent from the field.

“We did a poor job off the dribble with that next pass, hoping that next pass would lead to a … good look at the basket,” coach Larry Drew said.

Not so much.

The Heat led by as much as 21. They were never threatened past the first quarter.

John Henson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, while Ramon Sessions had a game-high 15 points.

“I just didn’t feel like we had that pep in our step,” Drew said. “We were talking about getting out in transition. “Against a good team, you can’t rely on your half court every possession.”

On paper, this was a mismatch from the opening tip - the two-time defending NBA champions against a young, undermanned squad that fell to 14-59 on the season.

But it wasn’t the prettiest of games. Perhaps Miami was a little worn from their third straight road game and fourth in five contests.

“We came in with a workmanlike attitude,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There was a commitment to it. You could tell from the beginning we weren’t trying to take the easy way out.”

Story Continues →