MIAMI - As the saying goes, charity begins at home. And if that's the case, the Miami Heat were torched by their own philanthropy on the way to seeing a three-game winning streak end with Sunday's 91-82 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
In a game that saw both teams struggle to generate any rhythm on offense, the difference in the outcome was the turnover margin. The Heat committed 22 turnovers that led directly to 22 points for the Bucks. Meanwhile, Milwaukee had 15 turnovers that led to 12 points for Miami.
That 10-point differential came back to haunt the Heat in a nine-point loss that dropped them to 3-1 on a five-game homestand that wraps up Tuesday against Cleveland.
"It was a physical game - they were up and into us, and that got us a little bit out of our comfort zone," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Milwaukee's aggressive on-ball defense. "Some of those turnovers were forced. Some of them were sloppy on our part."
Struggles to take consistent care of the basketball have been a lingering problem for the Heat, who entered Sunday's game ranked 27th in the league in average turnovers committed at 16.7 per game. That number rose slightly to 17 after Sunday's loss. It was the sixth time this season Miami had committed at least 20 turnovers, and the 22 were one short of the team's season high.
Heat forward Chris Bosh had a career-high eight turnovers against Milwaukee, with the ball-handling mistakes overshadowing his 23 points and six rebounds. Bosh was 8 of 14 from the field as the only Heat player to shoot better than 50 percent, but his two turnovers in the fourth quarter were most costly.
The first of those late-game breakdowns came when Bosh lost the ball with 11:40 left in the fourth on a possession when the Heat could have either tied the game or taken the lead. Instead Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer on the ensuing trip pushed the Bucks' lead to 68-63 with 11:25 remaining.
Another blunder came at the six-minute mark, with Miami trailing 76-72. But Bosh lost the ball out of bounds in front of the Bucks' bench as he tried to escape from two defenders.
Milwaukee continued to capitalize and scored 10 points in the final period off four Miami turnovers to help seal the game. Heat point guard Mario Chalmers also had six turnovers a night after he finished with 11 points and eight assists without a turnover in Saturday's win against Philadelphia.
Bosh said the best thing the Heat can do with an outing like the one they had Sunday is to throw it away, which, ironically is what they did with the ball on too many occasions against the Bucks.
"If we cut those turnovers in half ...," Bosh said before interrupting his own train of thought Sunday. "I know I'm responsible for that. I know I didn't have a good game taking care of the basketball at all. We all go through it in the NBA. We just have to move on and learn from our mistakes."