James, Heat handle Bucks
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James finished with 17 points and eight assists in just 29 minutes as the Miami Heat led wire-to-wire and cruised to a 96-77 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, as the Heat easily completed a season-sweep of the Bucks for the first time in nine seasons. James Jones and Toney Douglas added nine points apiece, while Dwyane Wade missed his fourth straight game while dealing with a sore hamstring.
The Heat current sit on top of the Eastern Conference standings, leading the Pacers by percentage points with eight games left on the schedule. Indiana has just six tilts remaining. The Pacers lead the season series, 2-1, with one final meeting set for April 11 in Miami.
"Our main focus is to try and get ready for that first round opponent," said Chalmers. "Finish the season out on a strong note and make sure everyone is healthy."
Ramon Sessions paced the Bucks with 19 points, and Zaza Pachulia pulled down 16 boards. Milwaukee has dropped 11 of 12.
All five Miami starters scored before the game's first timeout, as the hosts led 15-7 less than six minutes in. Bosh finished the opening frame with nine points, and James put an exclamation mark on the quarter with his thunderous dunk over Milwaukee big man Ekpe Udoh with 25 seconds left.
"Getting down to a team like that is tough to come back because they continue to play hard and don't let up," said Bucks guard Brandon Knight. "They don't make many mistakes."
The Heat led 33-19 after one, pushed the spread to 53-35 late in the second and owned a 56-38 edge at intermission.
The lowly Bucks, who own the NBA's worst record and best odds in April's draft lottery, never threatened the two-time defending champs in the second half, trailing by double digits the rest of the way.
The Heat have won four straight and five of six. Miami moved to 2-0 on its current five-game homestand ... Miami forward Udonis Haslem pulled down his 1,500th offensive rebound at 5:09 of the second quarter ... The Bucks won the rebounding margin, 42-35, as Bosh, Miami's starting center, went without a rebound in 26 minutes.
04/03 02:00:36 ET