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Hawks blow out Heat 106-82 in worst loss of season

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The Heat shot just 5-for-34 from downtown.

NBA: Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I guess it’s good that the Miami Heat probably won’t face the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs.

For the third time this season, the Heat lost to the bottom-dwelling Hawks. And this time, it was the ugliest — a 106-82 decision, and Miami’s worst loss of the season. A game that looked to be an offensive struggle for both teams — the halftime score was 38-37 — turned on its head in the third quarter, when Atlanta out-scored the Heat 41-21.

Miami played worse offensively than they have played at any point this year — certainly not representative of the team that has steadily climbed up the Eastern Conference standings bracket over the last couple months. At one point in the second quarter, Hassan Whiteside caught a pass with 15 seconds left in the second quarter just after jogging up court. But instead of passing the ball to a perimeter player to initiate an offensive set, Whiteside chucked up a 3. It missed. Whiteside again took a 3-pointer in the third quarter. It was an air-ball.

But it wasn’t just Whiteside. Heat players took rushed 3-point shots, and no one had the touch from beyond the arc. Miami ended the game shooting an abysmal 5-for-34 from 3-point range — and two of those makes came in the final minute of the game. Even some pretty good shots didn’t fall for players who have reliably made 3s for the Heat — Josh Richardson was 0-for-3, and Tyler Johnson was 0-for-4 from downtown.

It was a bit perplexing that Erik Spoelstra did not put in Wayne Ellington or Dion Waiters in the second half, after seeing how badly Miami’s offense was going. Spoelstra didn’t even opt to play either of those capable offensive players in mop-up time; the Hawks led by 30 at one point in the fourth quarter. Why not give Waiters a bit of NBA action in the fourth quarter, with the game already out of hand?

The game did have one highlight from a Heat perspective, though. It came in the first quarter, when Dwyane Wade threw up a lob to Derrick Jones Jr., who slammed it down with authority.

Wade, whose last game in Atlanta will at least include that highlight, found many fans among the crowd. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP even heard “MVP!” chants during a trip to the free-throw line. Wade finished with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and three assists. But he had a couple defensive breakdowns that led to open Hawks shots.

Jones finished with 14 points off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 shooting from the foul line. (Miami as a team shot just 15-for-27 from the line.) In a sign of how well he’s played to earn a spot in the rotation, Spoelstra even had Jones play a few minutes as the small forward alongside Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. Adebayo, for his part, added 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting as well.

The Heat will host the Denver Nuggets Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.