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Hawks generate stops, snap losing skid in 106-82 win over Heat

The third quarter was pivotal.

NBA: Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After a winless road trip, the Atlanta Hawks returned home in a match-up that could be considered favorable on Sunday evening. Though the sledding wasn’t always easy, the end result was thoroughly positive, as the Hawks pulled away from the Miami Heat in a 106-82 victory.

The Hawks opened the night on a positive note, with Trae Young scoring the first five points and a 13-2 overall run for the home team. Miami began the evening by shooting 1 of 8 (with two turnovers) and it would be appropriate to describe their performance as sluggish.

Atlanta pushed their advantage to as many as 12 points, with Jeremy Lin and Alex Len connecting on a play that ended in a dunk.

The rest of the opening period was ugly on both ends, however, and the numbers painted that picture. Atlanta and Miami combined to make only 16 of 52 shots in the first 12 minutes and, in general, it was a slog.

On the bright side, however, the play of the night arrived and it came from a future Hall of Fame guard, as Dwyane Wade lobbed a pass to Derrick Jones Jr. for an obscene dunk.

The Heat awakened to begin the second quarter, scoring the first nine points to take a 25-23 lead. That was a stark change from the first quarter, on cue, things leveled out for the rest of the half and the only “spurt” was a stretch of seven straight points for Atlanta that was capped by a Tyler Dorsey drop-off to John Collins for a three-point play.

In fact, it was a relatively hideous display of offensive basketball on both ends of the floor, with halftime arriving before a single player on either team could reach double figures in scoring. The Hawks shot 31 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three with 13 turnovers, while the Heat shot 33 percent from the floor and six percent (1 of 16) from three with 10 turnovers.

On the bright side, it was Atlanta’s best defensive half of the season, as Miami scored only 37 points before the break. More pessimistically, the Hawks were unable to take full advantage, taking only a one-point edge into halftime.

The home team repeated its effort from the opening minutes, zooming to a 12-3 run to open the third quarter. The spurt was capped by threes from DeAndre’ Bembry and Young, with the Hawks claiming a double-digit lead with haste.

From there, the Heat provided a bit of resistance but the knockout blow would arrive in short order for the Hawks. It came in the form of an 18-3 run, with Dewayne Dedmon providing a three-point play to get things started.

From there, Kevin Huerter, Daniel Hamilton and Jeremy Lin contributed connections from long-range and, simply put, the Heat imploded on the offensive end. Lin was particularly effective in the third quarter, scoring 11 points on his own, and when the dust settled, Atlanta shot 65 percent from the floor (and 55 percent from three) to take a 21-point lead with 12 minutes to play.

Though the result wasn’t academic at that point, there was very little drama in the offing. The Heat never mounted a run and, in the end, the underdog prevailed by a (very) lopsided final margin while setting a new mark for defense in allowing a season-low 82 points.

Despite the aesthetically displeasing nature of the entire first half, the Hawks produced reasonably strong offensive results in an overall sense. Atlanta shot 47 percent from the floor and 44 from three in the game, with balanced scoring up and down the roster. Collins produced yet another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, Young connected on a trio threes on the way to 19 points, Lin finished with 15 points (on 7 of 9 shooting) and five assists off the bench, and Bembry (17 points) performed well in joining the starting lineup.

After this (very) brief return to State Farm Arena, the Hawks will immediately hit the road again, as a tough road game awaits against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Stay tuned.