Hawks lose to Heat, 100-94
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade slipped behind the Atlanta defense to catch long passes on back-to-back breakaways, then climbed several rows into the stands and clapped as Miami Heat fans roared.
So it would be wrong to say Wade did everything Saturday night but lead cheers.
Wade scored 38 points, added 10 assists and was part of a late defensive stand that helped the short-handed Heat rally past the Hawks 100-94.
“That might have been his most efficient game of the season,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
With a confrontation during a second-half timeout, Wade even inspired a big fourth quarter by Michael Beasley, who emerged from a slump to score 22 points.
“He punched me in the chest,” Beasley said, “and he was yelling, ‘I need you. No more feeling sorry for yourself.'”
Beasley scored 14 points in the final period, including seven in a row in the last two minutes to put the Heat ahead to stay.
“It’s winning time, and we need Michael to be aggressive,” Wade said. “I just felt as a leader I had to get in his face a little bit. I didn’t mean to hit him in the chest. He came back and was the reason we won the game. I’ve very proud of him – probably the most proud I’ve been of him.”
The Heat overcame a 12-point second-half deficit even though they were down three players. Rafer Alston has been suspended indefinitely, the team said, because he has made himself “unavailable” other than through text messaging. He wasn’t at the arena for what the Heat described before the game as “personal reasons.”
“We will have no further comment until we are able to communicate with Rafer,” the team said in a release sent out about two hours after the game.
Also, Dorell Wright sat out with a swollen left knee, and Jermaine O’Neal tweaked his left knee in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game.
Wright and O’Neal are expected to return for the next game Tuesday at Charlotte. As to whether Alston will rejoin the team, Spoelstra said, “We’ll see.”
The absences failed to foil the unpredictable Heat, coming off an overtime victory Thursday against the Lakers. The Heat won their third game in a row, snapped the Hawks’ four-game winning streak and took the season series 3-1.
Quentin Richardson sank five 3-pointers and scored 22 points for Miami. Jamal Crawford scored 24 points and Joe Johnson 20 for the Hawks, but Miami’s zone stymied them down the stretch.
In the last three minutes, Atlanta failed to score on five consecutive possessions, committing three consecutive turnovers. The Hawks came into the game with the lowest turnover average in the NBA and finished with 13.
“We did some things that are not typical of us,” center Al Horford said. “It cost us the game.”
The Hawks also shot 6 for 20 in the final period.
“Besides Jamal, we just didn’t have anyone making shots against the zone,” coach Mike Woodson said. “They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
The start of the fourth quarter was delayed eight minutes after the scoreboard showed Miami leading 176-77. In reality, Atlanta led 84-80 when Crawford converted a four-point play with 8:42 left.
But the Hawks went cold down the stretch, and the Heat took advantage. Wade made a steal and fed Beasley for a dunk that put Miami ahead for good, 93-92 with 1:51 left. The Hawks twice missed shots, and Beasley hit a follow. Josh Smith missed for the Hawks, and Beasley sank a 3-pointer for a 98-92 lead with 47 seconds to go.
“I desperately needed this game for confidence,” Beasley said.
Wade kept the Heat close much of the night. With him on the bench, Atlanta outscored Miami 10-3 early in the second quarter. Six points by Joe Smith during the stretch helped the Hawks build a 37-25 lead.
Wade came into the game shooting 29 percent from 3-point range, but he sank a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute of the first half, including a 38-footer at the buzzer, to cut the margin to 56-52.
With the Heat trailing 68-56, Wade again rallied the Heat. He hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut Atlanta’s lead to 68-64. He hit a dunk, and then came his back-to-back breakaways to make it 70-all.
“That’s what greatness is about,” Spoelstra said. “He was doing everything that he needed to do to give us a chance to win. He hit some big shots to keep us in striking distance when it could have gone the other way.”
NOTES: F Udonis Haslem played in his 500th game for Miami, second in franchise history to Alonzo Mourning’s 593. … No difference: The Heat are 12-13 with Alston starting at point guard, 9-7 with Carlos Arroyo and 11-11 with Mario Chalmers.
Updated March 6, 2010