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Slip sliding away: Team suffers its fifth consecutive defeat

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Tom Enlund
March 29, 2009

The free fall continues.


The Milwaukee Bucks fell behind by 25 points late in the third quarter and went on to a 102-85 loss to the Miami Heat Saturday night at American Airlines Arena.


The Bucks did throw a scare into the Heat, trimming the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but it turned out to be just another defeat for the Bucks, who are winless after three games on their four-game trip that will conclude Monday in New Jersey.


''We played hard during that (rally) and tried to get back in it," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "We double-teamed the ball a little bit and were able to create some turnovers. It's just that playing from such a deficit again, it's very difficult to come back and beat a good team. Our defense wasn't very good again (in falling behind by 25). Then we had trouble making shots. We tried to hang in."


The Bucks have lost five straight overall, seven straight on the road and have seen their record plunge to 31-43. Their last road victory was on Feb. 17 in Detroit, the first game after the all-star break.


The Bucks had little going for them in the first half on either end, shooting 36.4% while yielding 56.4% to the Heat. The Bucks trailed at halftime, 58-43, and saw Miami pushed its lead to 75-50 with 4 minutes 40 seconds left in the third quarter.


Dwyane Wade got to the hoop with relative ease in the first half when he scored 16 of his 27 points. Forward Udonis Haslem made eight of nine shots, scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Miami, which sank 9 three-point shots and ended up shooting 48.1%.


Bucks forward Richard Jefferson came back from a frustrating game the night before in Orlando to make all 10 of his free throws and score 32 points. Center Dan Gadzuric was one of the few other Bucks bright spots, playing a very aggressive game and finishing with a season-high 18 points and 12 rebounds. But the Bucks again sputtered offensively, shooting 36.9% for the game and making two of 14 three-point shots (14.3.


''Once again, we had 16 assists on 31 field goals," said Skiles. "That's not our game. We need ball movement and people looking to make plays for each other. Right now, we look like we're just putting the ball on the floor, thinking that I'm going to go ahead and make a basket. That's not the type of team we are. We have to play more unselfishly on the offensive end."


These are definitely trying times for the Bucks, who have lost 14 of their last 18 and have seen their season-long goal of a return to the playoffs go up in smoke in a hurry. Only eight games remain for the Bucks, who contend that they will not succumb to losing and just throw in the towel.


''This is our job," said Jefferson. "Our job is to go out there every day and prepare and try to win games. If you start doing that (giving up), that's a cowardly way out of it. You say, 'Oh, here we go . . .'. I've never been a part of that in my life, and I don't plan on starting now.


Not that the steady stream of defeats has not left its mark on the team.


''It takes its toll," said guard Charlie Bell. "But at the same time, we've got to keep fighting. We'll do the same thing on Monday or Tuesday or whenever else we play. We just want to continue to fight and let the chips fall where they may. Playoffs or no playoffs, we still have a job to do."


The closest the Bucks got late was 82-75 after two free throws by guard Ramon Sessions with 7:40 left. But Haslem and Wade sank jumpers to push the lead to 11 and a short time later the Heat went on an 11-2 run to take a 97-79 lead with 3:46 left.



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