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Hawks come back in the second half but fall short in Miami

The short-handed Hawks showed some grit but couldn’t finish the job against the Heat.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Down two starters and a key bench piece in Dennis Schröder, Ersan Ilyasova, and DeAndre’ Bembry, the Hawks took the floor in Miami for the second time in two days, having just arrived after the loss in Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon. Malcolm Delaney and Mike Muscala filled in for the missing starters and the unfamiliarity showed, as the Hawks makeshift starting unit finished with 14 turnovers, including 7 from Taurean Prince, who was pressed into more ball-handling duties with Schröder sidelined. The Heat finished off the Hawks 104-93 after a hard-fought second half saw Atlanta come back from a 20-point deficit.

Atlanta hung with the Heat through the first quarter, trailing 26-23 after the first twelve minutes of play. Isaiah Taylor assumed the backup point guard role with Delaney pushed into the starting unit and in his first extended minutes as a member of the Hawks, he looked good, bagging a layup and two free throws to go with two assists and a rebound. The primary ball-handling responsibilities were spread around without Schröder in the lineup, with multiple players getting their shot at the role traditionally held by the point guard.

The second quarter got away from the Hawks as Miami’s Wayne Ellington hit six of his seven three-point attempts and pushed the Heat lead to 18 at the break. Surprisingly, Atlanta’s offense was competent throughout the game without their best creator, but the defense fell off a cliff in that second quarter. The third quarter brought back the Hawks’ defense as the Heat scored just 15 points in the period. Atlanta came back from down as much as 20 points early in the second half to tie the game, but Miami immediately went on a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to push the game out of reach.

Prince and Kent Bazemore led the team in scoring with 20 points apiece. Prince in particular shot the ball well from the floor, hitting nine of his 14 shots en route to his highest-scoring game of the season. He also picked up seven rebounds and dished out a pair of assists, though his game was marred with the aforementioned 7 turnovers. Bazemore got to the free-throw line consistently, hitting seven of his ten attempts from the stripe.

John Collins played just 18 minutes but was very effective, scoring 14 points on 11 shots and pulling in 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double. Down by multiple possessions in the fourth quarter, it was certainly curious that the rookie wasn’t on the floor for the Hawks.

Without a true point guard on the floor, Dewayne Dedmon struggled in the game, missing all five of his shots. Delaney continued his early season woes as well, posting a team-worst -16 plus-minus, often looking lost on both ends of the floor. Delaney defended Heat point guard Goran Dragic in the early going but was yanked off that assignment for Prince in the middle of the game.

The Hawks wrap up their five-game road trip on Thursday in Chicago before coming home for a pair of weekend games in Atlanta against the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks. Schröder told reporters before the game that he expects to be back for Friday’s game against Denver and old friend Paul Millsap.