Kevin C. Cox
While Josh Smith and Hawks fans wait for word on a potential trade, Atlanta dropped an up-and-down game 103-90 as the Heat overcame an 11 point second half deficit behind 24 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists from LeBron James.
The Hawks and Heat played a very intriguing and exciting game that included double-digit leads for both teams, but the game itself took a backseat to the rumors flying about a potential Josh Smith trade. Before the game, during the game, and after the game, the main point of conversation was about the numerous rumors that centered on the Hawks' star being traded before Thursday's 3 PM trade deadline.
Josh, as he has always done, handled the trade questions with class and spent more than 15 minutes talking with reporters after the game answering any and all questions about his future with the team. When he was asked if it was his final game as a Hawk, Josh said that he, like all of us, will be waiting; "We'll find out tomorrow at 3 PM." Josh talked about everything from guarding LeBron to what he wants Hawks fans to remember about him should he be traded ("My versatility, my passion, my hard work...").
Josh finished the game with 10 points, nine boards, and nine assists and defended LeBron James for the majority of his minutes. Smith shot just 5-of-13 from the field and spent too much time shooting jump-shots, but, in true Josh fashion, played some excellent defense and made a number of good passes to keep Hawks fans confused about whether they want him traded or not.
The Heat jumped out to a 24-17 first quarter lead and seemed primed to blow-out the Hawks, but Atlanta fought back in the second quarter to take a 59-55 lead at the half. The Hawks extended that lead to as much as 11 in the third quarter and were up 73-63 heading into the fourth quarter. Atlanta was moving the ball, keeping the Heat out of transition, and working the ball inside-out in the third quarter.
Then the Heat happened. Miami outscored the Hawks 40-17 in the final period and caught fire from three making five of their six attempts, all of which from Shane Battier and Ray Allen as the two combined for 24 points in the quarter (Allen 13, Battier 11). Miami also frustrated the Hawks offensively, who stalled and began running their sets later in the clock, which forced a number of bad shots at late in the shot clock.
Larry Drew's word of the day was "breakdown" after the game, repeating it constantly throughout his press conference in response to questions about the fourth quarter. The Hawks let the Heat shoot 77.8% from the field in the fourth thanks to a number of uncontested layups and jumpers. The Hawks were slow rotating out of double teams on LeBron and Wade, slow getting under pick-and-rolls, and slow to recognize back-cuts in the fourth quarter.
Al Horford led all scorers with 27 points and nine boards on 12-of-15 shooting, but had just four points in the fourth quarter on four shots. Kyle Korver (12) and Ivan Johnson (10) each gave the Hawks a boost off the bench in the second and third quarters. Jeff Teague had a terrible night, shooting 4-of-12 from the field for just nine points and eight assists with six turnovers.
LeBron finished the night with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists as his consecutive 30-point game streak was snapped at seven. Dwyane Wade added 20 points while Allen had with 17 points and Battier finished with 15.
The Hawks will look to bounce back Friday against the Sacramento Kings in a game that could feature two teams with very different rosters than they had in their first meeting. We'll all be waiting for word on Josh's situation, and if this was his final game as a Hawk, then best of luck Josh and thanks for the memories.