98 - 90 Final
  for this game

Heat hold off Hawks, clinch No. 2 seed

Apr 12, 2011 - 4:11 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - LeBron James finished with 34 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat held on for a 98-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, helping them secure the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed.

The Heat nearly blew a 20-point advantage, but got big shots down the stretch -- including two key three-pointers from James Jones -- to win their third straight game.

Miami clinched its playoff position after Boston lost to Washington in overtime on Monday. The results gave the Heat a two-game lead over the Celtics with only one game to play. Miami will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.

Josh Smith, who missed the last three games with a knee issue, returned to score a team-high 17 points, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Hawks from losing a fifth straight game. They will get one more chance for a victory before the postseason on Wednesday, when they play at Charlotte.

Miami's offense was efficient in the first half, when it made 26-of-41 (63 percent) shots and scored 28 points in the paint on the way to a 62-46 halftime lead.

The Heat's advantage reached 20 when James hit a turnaround shot with 4:51 left in the third quarter, ending a six-point burst to make it a 74-54 contest.

Miami was still up by double-digits, 79-67, heading into the fourth. But the Hawks got back into the game thanks to their bench -- which scored all of Atlanta's points in the period -- and the Heat's shooting struggles.

James converted a three-point play 62 seconds into the frame, but Miami didn't make another field goal for more than 7 1/2 minutes.

The stretch allowed Atlanta to go on a 19-6 run. Jamal Crawford ended it with a technical free throw that was the result of a bizarre play.

After Hawks center Zaza Pachulia backed Miami's Zydrunas Ilgauskas down in the paint for a layup, Ilgauskas pegged the ball at Pachulia's back. He earned a technical foul and an ejection for the action.

Crawford then made the foul shot with 3:28 left, knotting the game at 88-88.

"Regardless of what had happened, I really wanted to see how well our reserves would respond after cutting into the lead," said Hawks head coach Larry Drew.

But Jones came in for Ilgauskas and helped save the Heat. He drilled a three- pointer from the right corner as he was knocked down, and made the following free throw.

At the other end, Dwyane Wade blocked two layups to help Miami force a shot clock violation. Jones then hit again from beyond the arc, making it a 95-88 contest. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Hawks switched to a zone defense, forcing his team out of its offensive rhythm.

But, Spoelstra said, "I finally got our zone-killer in the game."

He was referring to Jones, who finished with those seven points but made them count, and Miami held on over the final two-plus minutes.

Game Notes

James added seven assists for the Heat, but also had seven turnovers. He recorded his 31st double-double...Wade had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds...Crawford scored 13 points off the Hawks' bench...Atlanta went 24-17 at Philips Arena this season...The Heat won three of four vs. the Hawks this season.