The Atlanta Hawks (22-57) played the Miami Heat (43-36) for the second time in as many nights on Wednesday. The Hawks finished the night last in the Eastern Conference, while Miami moved a half game ahead of Milwaukee and Washington for the sixth seed with the win.
In case you missed it, Tuesday night the Hawks blew a lead late in the fourth quarter in Miami as the Heat stole a 101-98 win behind a pair of clutch blocked shots by Josh Richardson. Last night in Atlanta the two teams squared off the complete the two-night home-and-home series.
Atlanta played only seven guys in the second half last night in Miami, so they needed the bench tonight more than ever. Nine Hawks played at least 18 minutes on Wednesday.
Isaiah Taylor, Damion Lee, Taurean Prince, John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon started for the Hawks.
Antonius Cleveland finally made his Hawks debut off the bench for Atlanta. He had undergone ankle surgery earlier in the year but the Hawks still liked him enough to sign him for the rest of this season and next without actually seeing him play in an Atlanta uniform.
Jeremy Evans also made his Hawks debut on Wednesday after signing a 10-day contract very recently.
Kent Bazemore (knee), Dennis Schroder (ankle), DeAndre’ Bembry (abdominal strain), Malcolm Delaney (ankle) and Jaylen Morris (ankle) were inactive.
Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt and Hassan Whiteside started for Miami.
Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic, and James Johnson all sat for Miami after playing last night. Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery) was also inactive.
Miami entered the night Wednesday with the seventh-best defensive rating (103.9) in the NBA. Their offense ranks 19th (104.6) and their net rating (0.7) ranks 17th in the Association.
The Hawks entered the night with the 22nd-ranked defense (108.2) and the 26th-ranked offense (102.5) with a net rating of -5.6 (26th).
Richardson was active throughout the night and started early with eight points, two blocked shots and one steal in the first nine minutes of the game for Miami.
Prince started hot for Atlanta, making his first five attempts from the field and scoring ten points in the first quarter. Lee had nine points and two rebounds in the opening period.
Cleveland made the most of his first opportunity off the bench, hitting a deep three during the final seconds of the quarter.
Atlanta led Miami by as many as seven in a back and forth first and finished the period with a 29-23 lead over Miami.
Josh Magette led all Hawk scorers with five points in what was a rather ugly second quarter for the home team. Atlanta shot 7-for-21 (33 percent) from the floor for the period.
Magette hit a circus shot as the seconds wound down in the second quarter.
Olynyk caught fire during the second hitting a total of five three-pointers for the quarter helping fuel a mid-period 14-0 run for Miami that started with the Heat down 38-45. By halftime, they led 53-47. Wayne Ellington also added two threes in the period.
Miami outscored Atlanta 30-18 in the second behind and made as many threes (seven) as the Hawks made field goals for the period.
McGruder (11) and Winslow (10) combined for 21 points in the third quarter helping Miami blow the game open, leading by as many as 18 in the period.
Prince led all third quarter scorers for the Hawks with seven points.
Miami outscored Atlanta 61-39 from the beginning of the second quarter to the end of the third, going 13-for-25 from the three-point line during that stretch.
Benches were emptied in the final quarter, as most of it was merely a formality. Miami never trailed in the second half.
Atlanta’s offensive scuffled for most of the night, shooting 33-for-90 (36.7 percent) from the floor and 9-for-30 (30 percent) from three-point range.
A balanced Miami attack proved to be too much for the Hawks as Kelly Olynyk (19 points, eight rebounds), Richardson (19 points, four rebounds, four blocks, three steals), and Justice Winslow (18 points) paved the way for the Heat.
Miami’s discipline on defense made things difficult for a young Atlanta roster. Richardson made his presence felt on both ends of the floor while the depth for the Heat proved to be too much for the Hawks.
The Heat shot 17-for-38 (44.7 percent) from three-point range for the evening and tallied 23 assists. The offensive exhibition was powered by good ball movement and lights-out shooting.
Prince led all scorers for the Hawks with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting (57.1%) and going three-for-six from three-point range.
Prince now has 16 games with at least 20 points this season.
Lee had another solid outing with 15 points (7-for-13 from the floor) and four rebounds. Collins added nine points, eight rebound and four assists.
Tyler Dorsey also added 15 points in 26 minutes off the bench. Dorsey has scored in double figures in four straight games, averaging 15.5 points over that four game stretch.
Coach Mike Budenholzer on Lee as the starting shoot guard:
“I just like his toughness, the way he rebounds the ball. Defensively, he has length to him. He’s having an impact on the defensive end of the court. Offensively, he’s shown a little bit of a pick-and-roll game, a little bit more to the basket, slashing, driving or cutting. He makes shots, gets to the free throw line a little bit. He’s done just a little bit of everything. He and Tyler Dorsey both split the minutes at the two, and I think it’s good for Tyler. Most of the year he’s come off the bench, so for him to be there is a comfort level, a good spot for him. I’m happy with both of those guys.”
Cleveland logged 12 minutes in his debut, scoring five points with two rebounds and one block. Budenholzer on Cleveland: “A few of the rebounds, a couple times his length and athleticism stands out. He’s just trying to get comfortable playing for us: where to be, spacing, timing and everything. But for him just to get out and play in an NBA game was a real positive.”
There was a little bit of history in tonight’s game as Wayne Ellington set the NBA record for most three-pointers made by a reserve player.
Ellington on the record:
“It’s a great accomplishment to set an NBA record. I’m thankful. I’m thankful. I’m appreciative. Like I always say - I’ve got to thank my teammates and the coaches, first and foremost. Without those guys, I wouldn’t be sitting here and having this conversation with you guys so I’m appreciative of that.”
Ellington is also only nine threes shy of Miami’s single season record:
“I’ve been hearing some whispers, you know guys say things here and there, but if it happens, it happens. If not, the ultimate goal is to get to the playoffs and see what happens there, so I’m content.”
The Hawks will travel to Washington for their next game, a Friday night match-up with the Wizards. Washington (42-36) is tied with Milwaukee for the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference.