Third-quarter rally helps Heat sink Hawks

Miami 89, Hawks 86

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Miami's Shane Battier (left) forces Atlanta's Josh Smith to look to pass instead of driving to the basket. The Hawks are 12-1 when Smith scores 20 or more points.  J PAT CARTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
J PAT CARTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Miami's Shane Battier (left) forces Atlanta's Josh Smith to look to pass instead of driving to the basket. The Hawks are 12-1 when Smith scores 20 or more points.

MIAMI — Larry Drew knew.

Oh, the Atlanta Hawks coach was hopeful, considering how his team had survived in recent games in the absence of guard Joe Johnson and Al Horford.

But this was the Miami Heat.

Asked pregame Wednes­day night what it would take to escape with a victory, Drew said, “Them having an off night; us having a good night.”

For most of the first three quarters, that proved to be an accurate forecast.

But Drew also was asked about the potential of the Heat, “They just remind me so much of the Showtime Lakers.”

And that’s what Drew got midway through the third quarter, the Heat forcing four consecutive turnovers as part of a game-changing 13-0 run that led to a 89-86 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena that extended the Heat’s home winning streak to 11.

“That was ugly there for a while,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We certainly weren’t in a great flow offensively. But we were able to push through, grind out the game and make the finishing plays.”

Ultimately, it was LeBron James imposing his will and Josh Smith, the Hawks’ last star standing, unable to match James’ force.

Factor in a pair of key late baskets by forward Udonis Haslem and the Heat were able to hold on.

“We know U.D. is a champion, where he helps you win,” Spoelstra said. “More often than not, he just makes winning plays.”

On a night Dwyane Wade shot 1 of 7 from the field in the first half, James kept the Heat afloat and pushed them over the top, with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

Wade added 18 points, nine
rebounds and six assists.

Smith did his part, with 23 points, but the Hawks fell to 12-1 when the veteran power forward scored 20 or more this season.

Both teams were coming off victories a night earlier, the Hawks staying afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race amid the extended absences of Johnson and Horford, with Tracy McGrady, Willie Green and Jason Collins also sidelined.


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