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Heat cruise to 19th victory in a row at the expense of visiting Hawks 98-81

Starters rest in the fourth quarter as the Miami Heat grab an easy victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Chris Trotman

The Miami Heat get their 19th straight victory and again cruised to a victory against a playoff team.

Though the team has struggled to put away some lottery teams during this historic winning streak, they have also outplayed many stronger teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Once again, the team defense was turned up to another level in the second half and the Miami Heat broke down yet another opponent down the stretch. This time the unlucky team were the Atlanta Hawks with a 98-81 blowout. The visiting team actually played decently all the way up to halfway through the second quarter with the score at 41-40 and were able to keep pace with the Heat by trading baskets and playing at a brisk pace that netted 28 fast break points, the most allowed by an opponent this season (according to Sun Sports).

That's when the Heat got to work and a pair of Mario Chalmers three-pointers helped boost the lead back up to double digits. The Heat never looked back and continued to keep inflating their lead, breaking away with suffocating defense and though they didn't shoot especially well on 43% field goal percentage it was still a team effort with Chalmers knocking down four 3-pointers and finishing with 14 points, Bosh chipping in another 14 points and Ray Allen contributing a dozen points.

Even with LeBron James only hitting three field goals for the game and a second straight game of finishing with less than 20 points, his presence wasn't even needed for much of the fourth quarter. Heat fans were treated to an almost nostalgic fourth quarter in which Dwyane Wade (closing with 24 points) was the dominant offensive force for the team. Chris Andersen had one of his strongest games yet as a member of the Miami Heat, who have only lost twice (against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers on the road) since signing him on January 20. Udonis Haslem had a strong game as well, grabbing seven early rebounds and finishing with 11. Even Joel Anthony had his moments during garbage time, scoring six straight points to snuff out a mini Hawks run at the end with the rotation players looking on from the bench.

It was the Heat's15th straight victory at home, the third longest streak in Heat history and they hit the road tomorrow night in Philadelphia on a seven game road winning streak, currently the longest in the NBA.