The final score said 107-87 and the reality is that it wasn't nearly that close. The truth is that the margin of error is so small for the Hawks against a team like the Heat that any one lapse can turn into a game changing run. That lapse came early Sunday night in the form of a 26-5 run to end the first and start the second quarters. When these two teams met the first time around, it was Miami that seemed somewhat disinterested and the Hawks hung around long enough to grind out the victory.
Atlanta clearly had Miami's attention this go around and they delivered the punch early and the Hawks basically went away. You aren't going to beat many good teams settling for jump shots every trip down the floor particularly when the opponent is shooting layups and/or getting to the free throw line. We could get more in depth but that basically, in my opinion at least, sums up this loss. The Heat did what they wanted, when they wanted and Atlanta did nothing to change that. Hawks coach Larry Drew:
"When things weren't going very well, when we were missing shots and physically they got up in us," Drew said. "... They were clearly the aggressor and we did not respond. You could read our body language. When they made that run our body language was not very good. That is an area where we have to get better at. There is too much basketball to be played when they make a run."
The stats are full of ugliness including a 31-7 advantage for Miami in free throw attempts and a 52-38 rebounding advantage for the visitors. Atlanta turned the ball over 13 times which led to 17 points for the Heat. Willie Green ended up leading the Hawks in scoring with 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Joe Johnson was the only other Hawks player in double figures with 12. Peculiar stat of the night was that the Hawks, despite their struggles, still had 26 assists on 35 made baskets.
LeBron James led the Heat with 23 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. James was just 6-15 from the field but 10-12 from the free throw line. Dwyane Wade added 21 points while Chris Bosh finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
As Jason pointed out last night, the good thing about this team is that they normally do a good job of moving on from disappointing losses like this one. Right now for whatever reason, the Hawks look more comfortable playing on the road so a difficult five-game swing might not be a completely bad thing.