James has 24, streaking Heat beat Hawks 103-90
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — The Miami Heat turned to two veterans off the bench to spark a dramatic fourth-quarter turnaround that kept their longest winning streak of the season alive.
Ray Allen and Shane Battier combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter, and the Heat scored the first 13 points of the period to erase Atlanta’s 10-point lead and beat the Hawks 103-90 on Wednesday night for their eighth straight win.
LeBron James had 24 points. Miami outscored Atlanta 40-17 in the final period as Allen and Battier combined for five 3-pointers.
“Ray has proven that he has been one of the elite fourth-quarter players in the league for a long time,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “If you leave him open in the fourth you’re going to hear the groans from the crowd like tonight.”
Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, Battier had 17 and Allen had 15.
James had 11 assists and six rebounds but could not extend his franchise-record streak of seven straight games with at least 30 points.
Miami trailed 73-63 entering the final period.
“We don’t win games in 12, 24 minutes, 36 minutes,” James said. “We’ve got to take 48 minutes. It was a good test for us coming out of the break.
“It took us a little while to get into our offensive rhythm.”
Al Horford led the Hawks with 27 points and nine rebounds. Kyle Korver had 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
Josh Smith had 10 points, nine rebounds and a season-high nine assists in what could be his final game with the Hawks. Smith has been one of the league’s most prominent names in reports leading to Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
“If it is his last game, he leaves a good mark,” James said. “He played hard for this team.”
Facing a large group of reporters at his locker after the game, Smith said he’ll be relieved when the deadline passes.
“If I’m here or not, I’m going to still play hard,” Smith said. “This organization has given me so much. They gave me a chance to play my dream. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
“I understand it’s a business and whatever happens, happens. No love lost. If I’m still here, I’m going to compete and fight for a playoff position.”
The Heat are 3-0 against the Hawks this season and have won six straight in the series.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said his team “just had too many breakdowns” on defense, including against Battier and Allen.
“It was the two bench guys who really put the nail in the coffin against us,” Drew said.
After trailing 43-38, the Hawks took the lead with an 11-0 run, capped by a three-point play by Devin Harris with 4.3 seconds remaining in the first half. James then launched a buzzer-beating jumper over Horford to cut Atlanta’s halftime lead to 49-45. Following a review, officials ruled the shot was not a 3-pointer.
The Heat trailed only 57-56 early in the third period before the Hawks stretched the lead with 10 straight points. Korver had two 3-pointers before Smith’s two-handed jam capped the run, giving Atlanta its biggest lead at 67-56.
Allen, who had a three-point play after Battier’s first 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, gave Miami its first lead of the second half at 74-73 with a layup. Two free throws by James capped the 13-0 run.
“You can’t get comfortable with them,” Korver said. “They showed why they’re a championship team. In the fourth quarter, in winning time, they had a lot of guys step up and make plays.”
Mario Chalmers had 14 points for Miami.
NOTES: Miami G Mike Miller did not make the flight to Atlanta due to ear problems resulting from a head cold. Spoelstra said he hopes Miller joins the team for Thursday’s game at Chicago. … Heat F-C Chris Andersen suffered a sprained left foot and was in a walking boot after the game. … Chalmers left the game less than 2 minutes into the second half and was limping after appearing to roll his right ankle. He returned after missing only a few minutes. … Drew said he hopes the team adds a guard if it makes no other trade-deadline move. G Jannero Pargo’s second 10-day contract expired, and Drew said he must monitor Harris, who has had problems with his left foot. … Celebrities in the sellout crowd of 18,238 included Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
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