for this game

Hawks snap long road drought, down Heat

Nov 22, 2007 - 5:56 AM By Rick Menning PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MIAMI (Ticker) -- Long known as a place where opponents dreaded playing, American Airlines Arena is becoming a friendly place for struggling road teams.

Joe Johnson scored 22 points and Josh Smith blocked a crucial layup attempt by Dwyane Wade in the final seconds as the Heat dropped their fifth straight home game as the Atlanta Hawks secured a 82-79 victory on Wednesday night.

Miami lost 104-95 last Wednesday to the Seattle SuperSonics - who were winless on the road at the time - In this one, the Heat surrendered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to Atlanta, which ended its 17-game road losing streak.

"I don't think there is any doubt that we are starting to feel the pressure," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We gave them life and they did the rest."

The streak was the longest active streak of road futility in the league as the team had not won away from home since defeating the Los Angeles Clippers on February 14.

The Heat appeared well on their way to locking up their first home win of the season as Ricky Davis hit two free throws at the end of the third quarter to give the Heat a 66-56 lead going into the final period.

"It's getting pretty hard to explain," Riley said. "We go ahead 73-71 and had about four good looks at it and then he (Atlanta coach Mike Woodson) went to zone. We missed five straight shots. I'm not saying we're snake-bitten, but we cannot get over the hump."

However, Johnson scored the first two of his eight fourth-quarter points during a 15-3 run that gave the Hawks a 71-69 lead with 6:43 remaining. The advantage changed hands twice - the last time on Johnson's second 3-pointer of the period, which put Atlanta ahead, 79-74.

"I was taking what the defense gave me," Johnson said. "When I get an open look, I want to make the most of it. That's the way I play. Your only thought process is to make the shot."

Udonis Haslem scored four straight points to trim the deficit to 79-78 with 1:17 left. But Smith hit two free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

"You have to play the entire game," Haslem said. "You can give the effort for most of the game, but if you don't get it done when it counts, this is what will happen."

After Wade hit one of his two attempts from the free-throw line to cut the Hawks' advantage to 81-79 with a minute left, both teams remained scoreless until the final seconds.

"You have to keep your swagger (against Miami) because they have the ability to win it at the end," Johnson said. "Keep that winning attitude and everything will work out."

Smith denied the last good chance Miami had when he blocked a layup attempt by Wade with three seconds remaining.

"I tried to keep him on my hip and time it right because he's Dwyane Wade and you don't do that very often against him," Smith said. "I knew I got him clean, and I just stayed with the play to get the turnover."

"The play that we tried to run didn't develop so we went to another option," Wade said. "He (Smith) is athletic and made the play at the rim."

The play left teammate Anthony Johnson in disbelief.

"I really couldn't believe what I was seeing," he said. "I mean, that was Dwyane Wade. It was just a magnificent play."

Woodson was also impressed by Smith's pivotal play.

"What a great effort, and even more impressive that he scrambled and was able to dig it out and get possession," Woodson said. "It's big enough that he got the block, but to also get possession I thought was equally big."

Marvin Williams hit one of two free throws on the Heat's quick foul to push the lead out to 82-79. Davis was unable to hit a game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.

"We gave this one away," Wade said. "This one is going to come back and smack us at the end of the year."

Miami's loss ruined what was arguably Shaquille O'Neal's finest performance of the season. The 11-time All-Star center had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks - his first seven-block game since January 3, 2005.

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