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Williams, Miami beat Hawks; close in on Wizards

Mar 22, 2007 - 3:40 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- It was Jason Williams' turn to step up in the absence of Dwyane Wade, and he took the responsibility seriously.

Williams scored 21 points and had eight assists to lead six Miami Heat players in double-figures in a 91-83 win over Southeast Division foe Atlanta Hawks.

The win moves the Heat (37-30) in to a virtual tie, percentage points behind Washington (36-29), for first place in the division and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta cut Miami's lead to 83-80 on two free throws by Josh Childress with 1:17 remaining in the game. Williams answered with an 18-foot jumper to push the lead back to 85-80 with 63 seconds to play. The 6-1 point guard sealed the victory with four free throws in the final 25 seconds.

"I just took the shots that were open tonight," Williams said. "It is critical for us to win every game we play, to try and get home-court advantage in the playoffs.

"It seems like someone has been out for us all year long, so we just have to keep doing what we have to do to win. I was trying to be aggressive tonight. They were pressing and trapping, but when they decided not to double-team me, I just had to be aggressive and take the shot."

Miami led by as many as 15 points with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter, but the Hawks surged back with a 14-4 run over four minutes in the fourth.

Eddie Jones had 14 points and Shaquille O'Neal, battling foul trouble most of the game, added 12 and six assists for the Heat, who shot 50 percent (36-of-72) from the floor.

"It's a different game without Shaq," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We were scrambling for a couple of minutes. The biggest factor was that we played well in transition tonight."

Josh Smith had 27 points, nine rebounds, three steals and four blocks and Marvin Williams added 16 points and 12 boards for Atlanta, which had a five-game home winning streak snapped and has now lost three straight to Miami.

Miami is now 11-3 since Dwayne Wade injured his shoulder February 21 at Houston. Five different players have led the team in scoring in his absence.

"They're players," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said about Williams and Jones. "They've been around the league a long time, and this is a championship team. You have to expect their best, and I thought we played them as tough as anybody's done lately. We came up on the short end."

Center Alonzo Mourning missed the game because of a right knee contusion. He is listed as day-to-day.

"These are good players," Riley said about his team. "They're old, but we've got good players. We've got a lot of experience and savvy. Some nights the effort and energy isn't there totally and you can win on savvy and talent. But going down the stretch you're going to need everything."

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