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One Step Forward, Daequan's Back: Miami Heat dispatch Atlanta Hawks 94-76

The Miami Heat continued their burgeoning rivalry with the Atlanta Hawks with a solid 94-76 victory which makes it two blowout games in as many nights. The bench came through again and were responsible for the much needed victories in anticipation of the All-Star break. There's something about these two teams that, well, bring out the worst in each other. Whether it's last year playoff series (that made you rethink if it was wise to ditch the best-of-five format for the first round) or this regular season, the margin of victory is always in double digits and usually never in doubt. But this game was different. With the score tied at 71-71 and only 9 minutes left to play, it actually started to look like it might go down to the wire and then the unlikeliest of the Heat players came through in the fourth quarter. Daequan Cook kick-started the Heat with two 3-pointers and the team scored 10 straight points without looking back until the final buzzer sounded. Jermaine O'Neal and Udonis Haslem were sensational as well with some timely buckets. With 3 starters only scoring 12 total points, the second unit were crucial as they helped set the tone early in the 4th quarter while Wade was sitting on the bench. With Beasley having an off game, it was even more imperative to help Wade on the tail end of a back-to-back game (which the Heat were 2-8 this season).
"This schedule and those tough losses that we've had didn't break the spirit," Erik Spoelstra said. "It'll prepare us for the tougher part of the season as we go down the stretch."
The Heat don't play at home until January 23rd so they better learn how to win on the road like tonight or else they will drop further behind in the standings. They might be cursed with the most bizarre schedule so far this calendar year. 3 home, 6 road, 1 home, 2 road, 2 home, 3 road, 1 home, 3 road, 1 home, 5 road, you get the idea. They have a mediocre home record of 14-12 and this schedule isn't going to do them any favors. It's almost a shame that the Heat have a break now while turning the corner. That five game losing record might have been a good thing in hindsight, the Heat comfortable in being average since it was seemingly enough for a #5 seed. It shook them and the normally reserved Wade said something about it. But then again, this season has always followed the same script. Win some, lose some. With the trading deadline fast approaching, the Heat's season remains an intriguing uncertainty.
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