Heat Check: Miami’s road trip ends with loss to Hawks

Perhaps four straight home games against marquee opponents will help the Miami Heat rediscover their identity of being a strong defensive team.

The Heat finished a string of six straight road games 2-4 with Monday’s 121-114 defeat at Atlanta.

Miami allowed the Hawks to score 71 first-half points and failed to come up with much-needed defensive stops down the stretch, especially in the last 1:12 after LeBron James’ three-point play pulled the Heat within 116-114.

James had 30 points and six assists to lead Miami (29-12). Chris Bosh added 21 points and seven rebounds. Ray Allen had seven rebounds and scored all 14 of his points in the first half.

Allen again started for Dwyane Wade, who sat out a second consecutive game to rest his knees.

Chris Andersen returned after missing three games with a knee contusion. "Birdman" had eight points, all in the second half.

Heat vs. Hawks

Forward Paul Millsap had 26 points to pace Atlanta, which led 97-92 after three quarters.

Miami will return home to play Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

The Heat scored 70 first-half points but trailed by 1 after 24 minutes in which both teams shot greater than 50 percent: Atlanta 58.1; Miami 53.2.

It was just the second time in team history that Miami and its opponent scored 70 or more points in one half. It previously happened in the second half at Boston on April 12, 1990, when the Heat scored 71 second-half points and the Celtics scored 78.

Both Miami (11 of 17) and Atlanta (8-17) hit from beyond the arc in the first half.

Allen, who had been in a January shooting slump, was 5 of 5 overall, 4 of 4 from 3-point territory.

All five Heat starters scored in double figures during the first half. James, Allen and Mario Chalmers each had 14.

Atlanta’s bench outscored Miami’s 27-6 before intermission.

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THE TURNING POINT

Atlanta went on a 10-1 run to take a 114-108 lead with 3:06 left in the fourth. Then the decisive blow basically was Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to make it 119-114.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Besides the 26 points, Millsap had seven rebounds, four assists and sank 10 of 11 free throws.

STAT OF THE GAME

Atlanta’s reserves outscored Miami’s 45-21.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Heat will play the opener of a four-game homestand on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.