This is how you win basketball games. Dwyane Wade was dominant throughout, Quentin Richardson stepped up with big shots for the 2nd straight game and in the 4th quarter it was Michael Beasley....yes, MICHAEL BEASLEY, coming through with the best one of his 2-year career. As a team, the Heat turned up the defense in the 2nd half, utilizing that 2-3 zone to the best of their ability. The only flaw in that defense is when the opposition start hitting outside shots...but that doesn't last, and when the Hawks went cold, the Heat made sure they completely melted their division rivals.
Talk about picking up where you left off...that is exactly what Quentin Richardson did against the Hawks. He drilled his first two 3-pointers after hitting seven in the Heat's last game on Thursday against the Lakers. Shortly after that, Dwyane Wade got his first bucket in a big way, splitting the D and throwing down a sick slamma jamma.
A nice early effort by Michael Beasley, turning a Q-Rich missed free throw into an offensive board and quick putback jumper. Beasley then hit a nice 20-foot jumper on Miami's next offensive possession, hopefully a sign of things to come on this night. Unfortunately, that would be it for Beas for the time being.
Daequan Cook started the 2nd quarter along side Mario Chalmers, who missed his first couple of shots. He wasn't the only one struggling offensively; the team as a whole was shooting around 35% over the first 15+ minutes of the game, allowing the Hawks to jump out to a 12-point lead early in the 2nd quarter. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Heat lost Jermaine O'Neal for the remainder of the game with a tweaked knee.
Despite all that, the Heat began chipping away at the Hawks lead. Quentin hit a couple more triples, Jamaal Magloire completed a nice 3-point play and D-Wade was looking vintage, driving and getting to the foul line the way we all love. Miami trimmed the lead all the way down to 3 but then in the blink of an eye, Atlanta hit back-to-back triples and the lead was back up to 11.
Dwyane Wade finished a 20-point 1st half on a very high note, taking an in-bound pass with 3.9 seconds left, dribbling down the floor and swishing a shot from just inside the half-court line. It was another amazing shot by Wade that he made look way too easy, and it brought the Heat back within 4-points of the damn Hawks.
Unfortunately it wouldn't last because the Heat came out flatter then the floor they played on, allowing the Hawks to get their lead back up to 12 in less then four 2nd half minutes. And then just like that, the Heat went on a 14-2 run sparked by a pair of Wade triples. During the run, Wade was fouled by Al Horford while attempting a breakaway dunk. He immediately grabbed for his elbow, but allowed his momentum to take him about 10 rows up into the AAA lower bowl where he clapped it up with the fans, getting everybody on their feet.
A long 2 by Carlos Arroyo originally called a trey would put the Heat up by 1, but shortly after that Arroyo made a dumbass pass that led to a Josh Smith steal and dunk, giving the Hawks a 77-76 lead after 3. There was then a long delay due to a clock and scoreboard malfunction. They couldn't get the score correct, at one point having the score showing 177-176.
After trying to get the score right by scrolling the number down one-by-one, they eventually got it right but then the clock wouldn't start. Finally, they had to bring in a whole new machine but the delay lasted a good 10 minutes. This would end up working in favor of Miami because it allowed Dwyane Wade to get plenty of rest and come back into the game less then two minutes into the quarter. Three straight triples (including a 4-point play) by Heat-killer Jamaal Crawford allowed the Hawks to keep a slim lead over Miami.
Crawford hit his 4th trey of the quarter to put the Hawks up by 3; he had all 13 of the Hawks 4th quarter points at that time. Michael Beasley responded with a 3 of his own to tie the game right back up, his second 3-pointer in the last three games. Then after back-to-back turnovers by Atlanta (caused by Michael Beasley), Dwyane Wade threw a lob pass towards the rim and Michael Beasley reached up with his left hand and in stride, threw it down to give Miami a 1-point lead.
He wasn't done there...he battled hard on the defensive end to get Miami a rebound after a couple of Hawks misses. On the other end Carlos Arroyo couldn't finish a tough layup, but guess who was there leaping above the rest and tipping the ball home with a free right hand. You guessed it...Super Cool Beasley, making the absolute most of his first 4th quarter action in 4 games.
Back on defense, Beasley was all over a driving Josh Smith and forced a very tough running hook shot that wouldn't go down, giving the Heat the ball with a 3-point lead and just over a minute left. No way was he done yet; Dwyane Wade took the ball and drove towards the rim, drawing defenders to him and dishing to a wide-open Michael Beasley. Super Cool drilled the corner trey and the AAA exploded.
This game was a perfect example of how dangerous the Wade-Beasley combination can be. With Dwyane dominating most of the game, it was a no-brainer that the Hawks would be swarming him in the 4th quarter. That would give space to everyone else, including a confident Michael Beasley, who scored 14 of his 22 points in the 4th quarter.
Did I mention that Dwyane Wade scored 38 points? I guess with the way this one ended, some of the attention was diverted from Wade to Super Cool. For Wade, he recorded his 3rd straight double double and has 36 assists in those 3 games. He has also done a great job of getting to the foul line since returning from injury, capped off last night by hitting 14-of-18 from the charity stripe.
- The Heat have now won 3-straight games at home for the first time this season.
- Quentin Richardson hit another 5 triples, giving him exactly 100 on the season. He recorded his 4th double double of the year, finishing with 22 points and 11 boards.
- As a team Miami shot 11-of-29 from beyond the arc, but interestingly enough all but three of the 3-point attempts came from the Heat's starting lineup.
- Miami did a great job of taking care of the ball, turning the ball over just 6 times (3 in each half).
- Since returning from injury, D-Wade has gotten to the foul line 47 times in the last 4 games, hitting 36 of the free throws (77%).
- Keep in mind that the Heat did this without Dorell Wright, who sat out after experiencing some swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. This isn't considered serious and Dorell is expected back in the lineup for the Heat's next game on Tuesday.
- In the 4th quarter, Jamaal Crawford completed his 6th four-point play of the season. This was significant because it was the 24th of his career, passing Reggie Miller for 1st place on the all-time list. Congrats to the Heat killer on reaching this milestone.
- Finally, the bigger congrats goes to our own Udonis Haslem. U-D played in his 500th NBA game last night, all of which have come in a Heat uniform. This is quite the achievement for the Miami native who came to the Heat an undrafted rookie, but Udonis has made an amazing career for himself. Congratulations, Udonis...you did it!!!
Rafer Alston suspended indefinitely
Anybody wondering how Rafer handled being demoted from starting point guard to 3rd string can stop scratching their heads. The Heat suspended Alston indefinitely on Saturday after ‘failing to make himself available to the team'. He didn't show up for practice on Friday and was a no-show for the game last night, only allowing contact via text messages. We've probably seen the last of Rafer in a Heat uniform...again.
The streaky Heat are back over .500 and have now won back-to-back games against top NBA opponents in the Lakers and Hawks. With D-Wade back in the lineup and playing strong, Miami has picked up where they left off before Dwyane got hurt. Miami is now back over .500; they jumped over Chicago and now sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, a game and a half behind Toronto and Milwaukee who are tied for 5th place. We now get a couple days to enjoy this most recent winning streak before the Heat get back at it on Tuesday night in Charlotte, who are 1 game back of the Heat and sitting alone in 9th place.