ATLANTA, GA—The defending champion Miami Heat (36-14) walked into an electric Phillips Arena on Wednesday night and, after a furious fourth-quarter comeback, they were able to pull off a 103-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks (29-22).
This was the eighth-consecutive win for Miami, and their sixth-consecutive win against the Hawks.
The most telling stat in this game (aside from the fourth quarter scoring differential) was the Hawk’s number of turnovers, which was 21. You can’t beat a championship team when you’re that careless with your possessions.
MVP front-runner LeBron James finished the game with 24 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds. Dwyane Wade contributed 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Chis Bosh had a very quiet night, as he only tallied six points and six rebounds.
Al Horford played a very efficient game for Atlanta as he led the team with 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Also, Josh Smith contributed 10 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
The game started out rather slowly, as both teams appeared to be a bit rusty following the All-Star break. The first quarter consisted of many turnovers and ugly possessions for both teams. Miami finished the quarter with a 24-17 lead.
In the second quarter the Hawks would get a dose of energy off the bench, by way of Ivan Johnson. Johnson scored ten points in the half, and really gave the Hawks a well-needed spark, as they would take the lead. In the final seconds of the first half, James would hit a buzzer-beating shot to cut the lead to four points heading into halftime 49-45.
In the third quarter, the Hawks seemed to be well on their way to a win, as Al Horford was having a field day in the post. Horford, until late in the third, was 9-of-9 from the field. Kyle Korver also contributed with four three-point buckets. Atlanta took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The final period of the game saw the role players of Miami step up and take over the game. Ray Allen and Shane Battier combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter, sinking numerous dagger three pointers. Couple that with the Hawk’s inability to take care of the ball, and you have what turned out to be a run-away fourth quarter thumping by Miami.
Miami outscored Atlanta 40-17 in the fourth quarter. The Heat also went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc in the fourth, while Atlanta went just 1-for-7.
This was a disappointing loss for Atlanta, in what could’ve been Josh Smith’s last game in a Hawk’s jersey. Smith’s name (which is the hottest name around the league at this year’s trade deadline) has been linked to as many seven different teams in trade talks.
“I haven’t thought about that,” replied head coach Larry Drew when asked about the Josh Smith trade speculation. “For now, he’s a Hawk. We’ll just have to see what happens,” said Drew.
The trade deadline is Thursday afternoon at 3pm. We’ll know Smith’s fate by then (at least as it pertains to this season).
The Hawks will return to action against the Sacramento Kings Friday night at the Highlight Factory. Friday is Hardwood Classics night and the Hawks will present their team of the 90’s.
Video courtesy of NBA.com
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Written by Darryl L. Jones