This was why.
Williams scored 25 points with nine assists, and combined with Bell for 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the fourth quarter to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 103-98 victory over the reeling Heat on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee won for the first time in its last 10 road games, and became the latest team to exploit Miami's defensive struggles -- the primary reason why the 2006 NBA champions face a long, long road just to even consider a postseason spot this year.
"Today is a good sign for us," Williams said.
And it was another bad sign for Miami, which fell to 8-24 overall and now faces a five-game road trip starting Friday in Dallas.
Dwyane Wade led Miami with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting, plus eight assists. He wasn't available after the game because the team said he was getting treatment on right pinkie and right shoulder injuries.
"He's really sore," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "He really is. He's trying to do everything he can do."
Ricky Davis scored 23 points and Chris Quinn added 12 for the Heat, who have lost five straight. Miami scored 31 points in the fourth quarter, but allowed 32 in the period on 71 percent shooting by the Bucks.
"We're so close, but still so far away," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. "We're probably going to end up playing zone the whole game, because we can't guard anybody one-on-one. It's how many games into the season, and we haven't guarded anybody?"
"We'll take any kind of feel-good medicine we can get at this point," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Hopefully, this can propel us."
Milwaukee scored the last three points of the third quarter to take a 71-67 lead, then put it away by opening the fourth on a 9-0 run capped by Villanueva's 3-pointer with 8:55 left.
Wade hit a 3-pointer -- his third of the season -- with about 28 seconds left to get Miami within five, but the Bucks held on from there, thanks largely to the Williams-Bell backcourt duo.
Williams turned down a $31 million Heat offer and re-signed in Milwaukee for $20 million more, and Bell signed a Miami offer sheet but stayed put when the Bucks matched.
Miami could have used them.
"I thought we played with a will to win," Williams said. "We did a lot of things to put ourselves in a position to win."
Milwaukee lost its previous nine games on the road by an average of 15.4 points, and was coming off a 45-point drubbing in Detroit on New Year's Eve.
Of course, those "Bienvenido a Miami" signs have been an enjoyable sight for NBA visitors this season.
The Heat fell to 4-11 at home. And while more than half the season remains to be played, Miami is already seven games out of a playoff spot and needs a massive run just to think about making the postseason.
"I'm going to stay positive," Davis said. "I've been through this situation before. It's just about guys staying together and trying to overcome it and hoping guys don't pull away and try to keep focus on what we need to do."
The Heat again played without Shaquille O'Neal, who missed his third straight game with left hip soreness.
Wade had five points in the first half, then got going in the third, getting one shot to drop in after bouncing near the top of the backboard and scoring 12 points in the quarter on 5-for-7 shooting.
Neither team held more than a four-point second-half lead until Milwaukee pulled away by holding Miami scoreless for the first 3:21 of the fourth -- and said a team meeting may have done the trick.
"We talked out it as a team and just decided that we just needed to go out there and make things happen," Bogut said. "The wins will take care of themselves if we go out there and do the right things."
Miami was without point guard Jason Williams (sore left knee) and forward Dorell Wright (sprained ankle). The Bucks were without center Dan Gadzuric (bruised left shoulder). ... The game was Miami's last at home for two weeks. The Heat don't play again in Miami until hosting Chicago on Jan. 16.
- Scott Foster
- James Capers
- John Goble