While both teams came into this game struggling, only one team looked the part as the night went on. The Hawks are a team that does most of their damage on the run and with 2nd chance points, but strong rebounding and a solid field goal % helped the Heat take away from the strengths of Atlanta. Miami was in control of this game from start to finish, and I was pretty surprised to see how uninspired the Hawks played; they are usually a very energetic and athletic team. Still, any win against Atlanta I will take.
Early on the Heat were playing some solid D, and I always enjoy watching Josh Smith take long jumpers. You could tell that D-Wade was feeling out the Hawks D, getting his hands on the ball early and often. After hitting their first shot, the Hawks missed 5 straight. Miami took advantage, scoring 8 straight points to take an early 6-point lead.
Both teams were shooting poorly, but the Heat held the early rebounding edge and the lead, albeit a slim one. That changed late in the quarter when Mike Beasley sparked the Heat, scoring 5 straight points that led to a 14-0 run. Dwyane Wade had 9 of those 14 points, and the Heat held an early 16-point lead. Miami hit their final 7 shots of the opening quarter and escaped with a very nice 30-14 lead. It helped that Atlanta went the last 4:12 of the quarter without a field goal, shooting 0-for-8 in that span.
The Hawks ended their long shooting drought early in the quarter scoring a quick 2, but then the Heat reeled off 8 straight points and the lead was up to 22. While their offense was clicking, man-up D was also working well for Miami. It also helped that Atlanta was shooting 26% half way through the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately, the Heat went the final 3 minutes of the half without scoring, allowing the Hawks to go on an 8-0 and trim the lead down to 17.
Quentin Richardson opened the 2nd half scoring for Miami with his first field goal of the game, a triple (he did go 4-for-4 from the foul line in the opening half). The long J's were working for D-Wade last night, an area he doesn't usually flourish. While Beasley was leading the way in scoring, Wade was quickly catching up with 7 3rd quarter points. The Hawks came back with a 9-2 run to draw within 14, but Mario Chalmers answered right back with his first triple of the game.
The Heat started the 4th quarter with names like Chalmers, Wright and Magloire in the game, but still looked good moving the ball offensively and kept the Heat lead at a safe distance early on. Credit goes to Mario Chalmers for moving with and without the ball very well and assisting on the Heat's first two buckets of the quarter.
D-Wade returned to the game with 7:07 remaining and scored 4 quick points to put the Heat back up by 19. The dagger may have come about four minutes later when D-Wade hit a ridiculous fadeaway rainbow J from about 20-feet. It put the Heat up 90-68 and seemed to keep the Hawks from getting any spring back in their step. Overall, this was a much needed, big time home win against a fierce division rival.
- D-Wade started the game 0-for-3 before heating up big time. His season-low 15-points last time the Heat played Atlanta became a distant thought as he scored 16 2nd half points, including several long jumpers. Wade finished 11-of-20 and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and only 1 turnover.
- The Heat out-rebounded Atlanta 52-30. That's just sick. It's also the largest rebounding differential for the Heat this season. They had five players with 8 or more rebounds (Q and Magloire- 10, Haslem, Beasley and Wade- 8).
- Mike Beasley had an awesome 1st half, shooting 9-for-13 from the field, good for 20 points to go along with 5 boards, 2 assists and a block. He fell off a bit in the 2nd half, hitting just 1 of his 8 shots. An interesting stat; late in the 1st half Beasley had the same amount of field goals as the entire Hawks team, each having made 9.
- This was the 7th time this season that D-Wade and Beasley each scored 20 points. The Heat are now 5-2 in those games.
- Miami is now 8-0 when holding their opponent to shooting under 40%, and 9-0 when holding them under 90 points.
- The Heat held Atlanta to season-lows in both points scored (75) and field goal % (35.2%). The Hawks are the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference and 5th in the NBA.
- With Jermaine O'Neal missing his 4th game of the season, Jamaal Magloire stepped up big time with a season-high 10 rebounds to go with 5 points, an assist, a steal and 2 blocks in 21 minutes. Well done, big cat...always ready to contribute when called upon.
- Mario Chalmers led the Heat in assists with 6, and played the 3rd most minutes behind Wade and Beasley. I thought it was the best game for Rio in a while.
- No minutes for Daequan Cook last night (until the very end). Can't help but wonder if he has squandered his most recent opportunity to get back into the rotation.
Here is my final thought. While the Heat have been very inconsistent, they are now 3-1 against the Magic and Hawks this season. Next up are the 24-win Boston Celtics who beat the Heat by 7 in Miami on November 29th. Should be a good one, assuming the Heat keep use their momentum from last night and take it into Wednesday's game.