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Heat 100 - Hawks 94: All we are saying, is give Beas a chance

It was a day where the Miami Heat lost two players to injury and one player possibly for good. But it was also a day where one Heat player broke through and came back from a dreadful slump to lead the way to victory over the Atlanta Hawks. With knee problems being the culprit for Dorell Wright being inactive and Jermaine O’Neal leaving the game early as well as Rafer Alston going AWOL, the Heat desperately needed a lift to get past the troublesome Hawks. Quentin Richardson continued his surprising recent offensive surge with 22 points (including 5 three pointers) and Dwyane Wade was his typical brilliant self with 38 points and 10 assists, including a scorching 3rd quarter that included back-to-back 3 pointers and catching cross-court lob passes for breakaway opportunities. But the night belonged to Michael Beasley who scored 14 points in the 4th quarter including seven points in a row near the end that swung a Heat deficit into a lead that they never relinquished. But his contributions weren’t limited to just offense. Back-to-back steals and deflections on two straight Hawks possessions along with some solid defending on Josh Smith were crucial in preserving the Heat lead. With Beasley getting zero minutes in the 4th quarter in the last several Heat games and being limited all season long at crunch time by Erik Spoelstra in favor of steady veteran Udonis Haslem, he most assuredly would not have been called upon if it wasn’t for O’Neal’s injury. It’s one thing if the Heat were a contending team with a solid rotation that had no late-game minutes for a second-year player still honing his NBA game. But for a team starving for buckets late in games when the opposing team’s only focus is to stop Wade, it’s just plain bizarre for Spoelstra to stubbornly stick to this plan all season long. The only way Beasley is going to reach his potential is to actually be in the game when it matters most instead of watching from the bench. The Heat made a lot of progress in the playoff hunt with this victory. It took the season series from last year’s first round playoff nemesis Atlanta 3-1 with three straight victories. The Heat are also now only 3 games back in the loss column from 5th seeded Toronto who have lost 4 of 5 games and leapfrogged a slumping Bulls team who have lost 4 straight games. It was imperative for the Heat to defend their home court with this favorable schedule and they responded with three straight victories to lift their record at the American Airlines Arena to 17-14. Now it’s time to avenge some ugly Charlotte Bobcat losses.