(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)
The Miami HEAT defeated the Atlanta Hawks 121-119 Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The HEAT swept their five-game homestand 5-0 and now head to the west coast for a four-game trip.
Impact Performance of the Night: With Dwyane Wade out and Chris Bosh only playing 30 minutes because of an injury, LeBron James dominated the action for the Miami HEAT. James finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He hit big shot after big shot late in the fourth quarter and in the overtime period. James drilled four three-pointers and threw down some vicious dunks. His floor game was strong as well, as he finished with six assists and no turnovers. James also found Ray Allen in the corner at the end of regulation, where Allen drew the foul on a three-pointer.
The Deciding Run: The Hawks led the HEAT 107-100 with 1:40 left to go in the fourth quarter. LeBron James answered a three-pointer from Kyle Korver with a three-pointer of his own and the HEAT kicked off a 21-12 run over the rest of the fourth quarter and through overtime. The HEAT were able to generate stops down the stretch and get to the free throw line. The Hawks had been hot from three-point range all night, but their looks stopped going down late.
Play of the Game: LeBron James dunked over an NBA player again. This time it was Paul Millsap with just 14.4 seconds left in the game. James turned the corner and took off straight to the rim. Millsap tried to draw the charge but was unsuccessful. This dunk looked an awful lot like the dunk over Ben McLemore on Friday night.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 116.6; Defensive Efficiency: 112.9
Trend to Watch: The HEAT’s depth has been an asset all season and it was again tonight against the Hawks. With Dwyane Wade out, Ray Allen got his third start of the season and finished with 19 points and six rebounds. With the HEAT struggling with Atlanta’s versatile bigs, Michael Beasley stepped in and defended well while also scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 20 minutes. With Ray Allen in a starting role, Roger Mason, Jr. came off the bench and added eight points and four rebounds. With Chris Bosh out with an injury, Chris Andersen played 25 minutes, his second highest total of the season, and put up 12 points and nine rebounds. All of these players were thrust into important roles against the Hawks and all thrived. Miami’s versatility is often on display when they’re at full health as the HEAT shift into all kinds of combinations that make opposing defenses miserable. In situations like tonight they take on a different look but are still very effective. As the season rolls on and different injuries and ailments affect the active lineup, the HEAT will still be able to find groups that can perform on both ends of the floor. Tonight nine players played 16+ minutes and all contributed in different ways. Few teams can boast that kind of depth.
The Takeaway: The Atlanta Hawks have a pretty strong claim as the third best team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve been playing well and are a very balanced team. Tonight they shot lights-out from three point range and scored efficiently for most of the night. Still, the HEAT found a way to pull the game out with timely shooting and defense of their own. It wasn’t always pretty and Miami was forced into using all kinds of funky lineups, but that’s probably for the best in the long run. There will be a lot of nights like this in an 82 game season and it’s always better to come away with a win. The HEAT ran the table on their five-game homestand, finishing a perfect 5-0 as they prepare to travel to the west coast for a difficult four-game swing.
Notes: Mario Chalmers scored 12 points and dished out four assists. Chris Bosh finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden were inactive.