For the Miami Heat, the third quarter was pretty much the whole story. Chris Bosh tumbled over some courtside seats on one end, and LeBron James apologized to a few fans during one particularly frustrating moment on the other.
In between, Mario Chalmers gave the Heat all the boost they needed.
Chalmers went on a personal 9-0 run in a 39-second span of the period, Bosh led all scorers with 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting, and the Heat went on to beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-88 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.
Ray Allen scored 17, while Chalmers had 12 of his 14 in the third quarter for the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade for the second time this season. James finished 13 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Heat (8-3).
Mike Scott scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which got 12 points apiece from Al Horford and Pero Antic. Kyle Korver made three 3-pointers for the Hawks, extending his streak to 84 consecutive games with at least one make from beyond the arc, five shy of matching Dana Barros’ NBA record.
Miami’s lead was 56-54 in the third quarter when Chalmers got hot – in a hurry. James Jones, who started in place of Wade, actually started what became a 15-2 run with a 3-pointer, and then Chalmers got going.
He cut across the lane for a reverse layup while getting fouled, then made a 3-pointer from the left wing after an Atlanta turnover. Jeff Teague missed a layup on the next Atlanta possession, James wound up throwing a chest pass from about 50 feet to Chalmers, who pulled up on the catch and connected on another 3-pointer from the same spot.
Just like, 56-54 became 68-54.
And when James added a three-point play with 4:30 left in the third, the lead was 15. Atlanta carved it back to 10 entering the fourth, but the Heat – with five reserves on the court – then showed off their depth.
Allen scored Miami’s first 12 points of the fourth, Michael Beasley added the next four, and the Heat lead grew 94-78 with 5 minutes remaining, ensuring that the two-time defending NBA champions would keep their starters on the bench for the entirety of the final period.
Neither team led by more than six points in the first half, one where the Hawks held James scoreless for the first 16 minutes. James never really got on a sustained roll offensively, though Miami didn’t need him to get there, either. James scored 10 points in the second quarter, and only three in the rest of the game.
Even without Wade, and on a night Miami used its sixth starting lineup in 11 games, that didn’t matter.
”We don’t ever want it to seem usual,” James said. ”We want guys in the lineup but health is number one for our team, for sure. Like I continue to state, the best thing about it is when guys go down we’ve got depth and guys who can step in and play a starting role.”
Atlanta was without forward Paul Millsap, who was not with the team in Miami because of right elbow tendinitis. Gustavo Ayon started in his place, the second time that’s happened this season for the Hawks.
NOTES: Heat F Udonis Haslem had a fairly odd stat line: seven points and six fouls in eight minutes. Haslem had missed Miami’s last four games with back spasms. … James is now two free throws away from the 5,000th make from the line in his career. … Heat coach Erik Spoelstra improved his winning percentage to .6617. If Miami wins at Orlando on Wednesday, he would pass legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach (.6619) on the NBA’s career list, among coaches with more than 400 games. … Atlanta finished with 22 assists, and the Hawks have had at least 20 in every game this season.