Hawks Beat Heat For Third Straight Win at Philips
The Hawks (21-19) got a victory over the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat in a high-scoring affair, 121-114. Atlanta had seven players get into double figures and shot 51.9% from the field (38.7% from three) along with going 25-of-27 (92.6%) from the free throw line in the win. Miami’s offense shot well too, particularly from deep, as they went 15-of-33 (45.5%) from the three-point line and shot 48.7% from the floor overall.
|Hawks vs. Heat|
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 26 points, seven boards and four assists on 8-of-13 shooting (10-of-11 FT). Twenty of Millsap’s points came in the first half as both teams were on fire offensively, combining for 141 points (71-70 Hawks lead).
The first half was an incredible offensive show — assisted by a lackluster defensive effort from both teams. Each team kept the turnovers down (9 combined) and shot a combined 55.6% from the field. Pero Antic had 10 points in the first six minutes of the game for the Hawks, finishing with a career-high 17 on the game. For the Hawks, it was just a matter of playing with pace and finding their rhythm.
“I felt like everything was clicking,” Millsap said. “We shared the basketball well. Guys were moving, moving without the basketball and it opened up a lot of things.”
In the second half, Millsap was limited due to foul trouble — scoring just two points in the third quarter — but played a crucial role down the stretch as the Hawks ran their offense through him in the post against Chris Bosh. The Hawks ran a number of plays in a row through Millsap, who scored four points at the free throw line, and got Antic and the shooters involved when the Heat defense collapsed on him.
“Coach called the play for us and they paid so much attention [to me] that it was up to me to make the right play,” Millsap said. “I found some shooters, I found Pero a few times, and they finished.”
“Paul obviously had a great first half and then had foul trouble, really til the end of the game, but getting him the ball and having him be the facilitator and decision maker is always a good thing,” Coach Budenholzer said. “He obviously can score and he sees the court and makes great decisions. I think his pass to Kyle for the three in the corner was crucial, and Paul is someone we’re comfortable with having the ball in his hands, not just to score but to facilitate.”
LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points — 11-for-21 shooting — and added four rebounds and six assists. James was effective, but he had what felt like a quiet night until he buried back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth quarter to give the Heat a 107-104 lead. After his second three-pointer, an uncontested walk-up three in transition, the Hawks called a timeout, and the message was simple.
“I think it was basically stick with what we’re doing,” Coach Bud said. “There was a review, and we were confident it was going to be a three-point game. They went up three on us, and we just needed to keep playing the way we had been playing all night and just needed a few more stops.”
“We’ve been in these kinds of games before,” Shelvin Mack said. “Boston game, we kind of lost it, this was a big game and we didn’t need to let another one of these slip.”
“We’ve been in a similar position before,” DeMarre Carroll said. “Golden State, they hit a game winner in a similar position like this, so Paul pulled everybody to the side and said ‘We’re gonna win this game.’ When you’ve got your leader saying that, can’t do nothing but hop on board.”
The Hawks held the Heat to 44 points in the second half as they turned up their defensive effort and were able to get some crucial stops, especially in the final minutes where the Heat scored seven points in the final 6:32 of the game. The message at the half and throughout the second half was to play with more energy on the defensive end and get stops.
“With all of the scoring that happened in the first half, we talked at halftime about one team was going to make more stops in the second half and we wanted to be that team,” Coach Bud said. “We wanted to make the commitment to make some stops defensively and still continue to play with pace and still try to score at the same pace. Two 22-point quarters [for Miami] is a real positive for our group, to be able to find a way to get some stops against a very talented, well-coached team.”
“We paid more attention to detail [in the second half],” Carroll said. “In the first half they were getting all of the open threes and that, so Coach told us to chase them off the three-point line and I think that’s what really helped us. We had Elton in there, Pero and Paul blocking shots, so for us guards it was about running them off the threes.”
The Hawks did well against the three-point line in the second half, keeping Shane Battier and Ray Allen scoreless in the second half after combining for 25 points on 7-of-7 three-point shooting in the first half.
Carroll was the Hawks’ second leading scorer with 19 points — 8-of-13 shooting and 3-of-5 from three — along with six rebounds and he was also tasked with defending James much of the night. Carroll’s second half effort on both ends was a big part of the Hawks’ success and ability to close the game out with a big run.
Kyle Korver had a rough night shooting, going just 3-of-10 from the field but extended his three-point streak to 109 games and hit a dagger from the corner late in the game to give Atlanta a five point lead with under a minute to play. Korver also hit a pair of late free throws to ice the game and finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Mack came off the bench and played 27 minutes, scoring 13 points and dishing out seven dimes as he played the entire fourth quarter in place of an ineffective Jeff Teague (two points and six assists in 20 minutes). Mack brought the Hawks a lot of energy off the bench and ran the offense very well, as the Hawks had 33 assists on their 42 made shots. The Hawks moved to 7-1 in games where they’ve had 30+ assists as they lead the league in assists per game. The key to the Hawks ball movement and subsequent success was their pace.
“Just come in and try to play with pace,” Mack said. “Everyone did a great job of creating some space opportunities and try to make some plays, and we were able to do that for a long period tonight.”
The Hawks bench unit, led by Mack, had 45 points — to the Heat’s 21 bench points — as Mack (13), Lou Williams (12), Mike Scott (12), and Elton Brand (8) all stepped up with 20+ minutes a piece.
Atlanta dominated the points in the paint, outscoring the Heat 48-34, taking advantage of Miami’s smaller size. The commitment to getting to the rim opened up three-point shooters and also got the Hawks to the free throw line 29 times. The win makes three in a row at home — over some of the best in the league with Indiana, Houston, and Miami — and eight of their last nine Atlanta home games [loss in London technically a "home" game] have been wins. The consensus of the locker room was that the home streak was great, but now the real test is to take that effort on the road.
The Hawks will get their first crack at breaking out of their road woes as they will travel to Orlando on Wednesday to take on the Magic, who have won twice already this season against the Hawks.
Tweet of the Night
Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images