Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Hawks went toe-to-toe with the defending NBA champs for two and a half quarters before turnovers and poor shot selection derailed the upset bid.
The Atlanta Hawks saw their three-game winning streak snapped as they suffered their second loss in the last 11 games as they fell to the Miami Heat 101-92. Monday's game for two and a half quarters had a similar feel to Saturday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Atlanta clearly wasn't playing their best as Miami's 60+ percent shooting for three-quarters suggested but the Hawks were right there on the scoreboard just like against the Grizzlies.
The game was essentially decided in the third quarter just like in Memphis except this time it was the Heat that used a big run to stymie the Hawks. Atlanta took a 65-63 lead on a Jeff Teague three-point shot with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter. The truth was though, the offense had started to stagnate a possession or two earlier and against a good defensive team like the Heat, it doesn't take much.
"We just didn't play aggressively in the second half," guard Jeff Teague said. "We let them dictate how we were going to play, starting with me. We were kind of timid. We really didn't have any fast-break points. From them playing at home, where they are very explosive, I think we were nervous to play our game."
From that point, Miami went on a 17-4 run that was fueled largely by turnovers and the Hawks willingness to settle for jump shots. No team in the NBA is better at turning turnovers into buckets and the Hawks clearly played into the Heat's hands.
"We made entirely too many mistakes, too many mental mistakes, against a very good basketball team," coach Larry Drew said. "Against Miami you can't do that. You have to be efficient with your defense. Offensively we had to execute. We ended up shooting too many 3s. We ended up shooting 28 3s and you better be making them if you are going to take that many."
Atlanta was 7-15 in the first half from three-point range with DeShawn Stevenson and Josh Smith accounting for all of those makes. Smith ended up tying a career-high going 4-5. However, Atlanta as a team made just 2-13 attempts from downtown in the second half. The Hawks also struggled with turnovers after the break committing nine of their 14 in quarters three and four.
That is a lot to overcome especially with Miami shooting at a better than 60 percent clip for the majority of the game. The Heat were able to get out and run some during their third quarter run but they were only credited with eight fast break points in the game. Miami had a six point advantage in points in the paint 40-34. They made a lot jump shots and some of which probably weren't as contested as the Hawks' coaching staff would have liked.
For the Hawks this loss can be used as a learning experience. They saw for the second time this season that they can compete with the Heat although they have to play a near perfect game offensively in terms of taking care of the basketball. That goes for a lot of teams because Miami is the defending champs for a reason. The win in Memphis still has the Hawks positioned for a solid road trip if they can take care of the Magic in Orlando on Wednesday.