Kevin C. Cox
Improving to a 5-1 record, the Heat outlasted the Hawks Friday night. In what was mostly a seesaw battle for the majority of the game, Miami would rally in the second half to defeat their southwest rival.
Ray Allen hit a fade away jump shot in the corner, giving the Heat a 91-89 lead with 1:15 left. Josh Smith missed a pair of free throws to tie it and LeBron James iced it, knocking down mid range bucket with 13 seconds left.
LeBron flirted with a triple double as usual, scoring 21 points with 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Chris Bosh also stepped up big with a game high 24 points and shot an impressive 10-10 from the free throw line.
With Dwyane Wade unable to play tonight, sidelined with a cold, the Heat started Mike Miller at shooting guard. Miller struggled in his start, never really contributing offensively and seemed a step behind on defensive rotations. While he did manage to grab 6 rebounds, it's still transparent that he's not fully healthy and in rhythm.
Similar to the game against the Knicks, the Heat just didn't look motivated and engaged on every possession early. Jeff Teague attacked the paint with relative ease and he had solid overall game, finishing with a team high 20 points and 11 assists. Josh Smith and Al Horford made their presence felt in the interior and Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow combined for 29 points on mostly perimeter shots.
Miami also was uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, committing 10 of their 14 turnovers in the 1st half. Miami tied the game at 25 after the first quarter but would struggle in the 2nd and go into the half down 46-42.
The Heat amped up their defense and controlled the tempo better in the second half. Ray Allen was instrumental tonight, filling the scoring void and producing offense from varies areas of the floor. He would finish with 17 points on 6-12 shooting.
Rashard Lewis was also productive off the bench tonight. He showed versatility offensively, hitting on fade away shots from the post and perimeter 3-pointers from the right and left wing. He finished with just 7 points but had a solid impact in the game. Norris Cole also just had 6 points, but did a great job pushing tempo and creating opportunity in transition.
The Heat will next host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon.