The 12-5 Atlanta Hawks faced off against the 13-5 Miami Heat in a battle for the Southeast Division lead.
The final was 101-92 but the second half made it seem not nearly as close. There was no answer for Lebron, who repeatedly got to the rim with ease, and Wade who was on fire from midrange, going 6-7 from outside the paint.
The first half was thoroughly entertaining, with crisp ball movement from both teams and many long bombs. The teams combined for 13-27 from three point land and for 110 first half points. Lebron James was was 7-10 in the first half for 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and finished with a 27 point, 7 rebound, and 6 assist line. Chris Bosh threw in a quiet double double but got burned on the defensive end, letting Al Horford establish great position in the paint for easy lay-ins.
The Heat shot 63.9% in the first half including 26 points in the paint, compared to the Hawks mark of 46.3% and 14 points in the paint. The final margin was 58% to 43%. The Heat left points at the free throw line however, going only 4-9 in the first half and 14-22 overall, or the lead would have been larger.
The Hawks have been one of the worst teams at getting to the free throw line in this young season, so finishing the game 19-20 at the line is very promising, despite the game result. The second half from behind the arc was a different story, as the Hawks finished 2-13 from long range in the second half.
DeShawn Stevenson took 7 shots in the first half, all three pointers, nailing 4 of them, but went 0-4 in the second half, also from behind the arc. It was the product of good ball movement in order to get him open, but the shots simply were not falling for Stevenson, a career 34.1% three point shooter.
Josh Smith was 1-8 on two point shots in the first half but 3-3 from three. He finished 7-18 and 4-5 from beyond the arc, but it was clear most of his energy was spent on trying to slow down the reigning MVP Lebron James.
The Hawks started the second half cold, coming out of the locker rooms shooting 1-8. The Heat jumped out to a 10 point lead midway through the third quarter and the Hawks could never make it close from that point on.
Larry Drew shortened his rotation for this game, only bringing Anthony Morrow, Lou Williams, and Zaza Pachulia off the bench until some garbage time minute for Johan Petro, Anthony Tolliver and John Jenkins.
The Hawks were virtually tied in every area with the Heat, rebounds (32-32), turnovers (14-14), and steals (10-8), except for the shooting percentages. The Heat’s big three put on a display, combining for 27-40 for 67.5% shooting.
The Heat take a 1.5 game lead in the Southeast Division and bump their record to 14-5 while the Hawks fall to 12-6. Next game is in Orlando on Wednesday at 7 PM.