for this game

Huge third quarter lifts Hawks past Heat

Dec 13, 2008 - 4:08 AM By Christopher Stock PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MIAMI (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Hawks just needed a few minutes to get warmed up. Once they did, they put it on cruise control.

After failing to score a point over the first five minutes as the Miami Heat rattled off the first 11 points of the game, the Hawks woke up and took off, rallying for a surprisingly lopsided, 87-73, triumph over their Southeast Division rivals on Friday.

Miami - which came into the game tied with Atlanta for second place and was looking for its fifth straight win - seemed to take its collective foot off the gas after storming ahead early. The Hawks capitalized. After taking their first lead in the second quarter, the Hawks took control in the third, closing the frame with a 14-0 run that gave them a 20-point cushion and all but sealed the win.

"That's the best I've seen us play defensively and it was a total team effort across the board in terms of being able to defend and kind of coral (Dwyane) Wade," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Then finally in that third quarter we broke out of our shooting slump."

They repeatedly caught the Heat defense a step slow, catching fire from the perimeter and dominating inside the paint. In the decisive third quarter, Joe Johnson buried three 3-pointers, Mike Bibby added another and the Hawks got the rest of their buckets from within 13 feet or at the foul line.

"We got a few breaks," Johnson said. "Got out in transition and got a few threes and a few dunks."

In a one-minute span, Josh Smith scored on a dunk, Zaza Pachulia followed with a layup and Maurice Evans buried another dunk, prompting frustrated Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout.

"I thought we were aggressive to start the game, then they turned it around in the second quarter," Erik Spoelstra said. "They started getting more aggressive and they got some calls. We made some silly fouls there in the second half."

Johnson finished with 21 points to lead the Hawks, Bibby added 15 and seven assists and Josh Smith added 15 points of his own as the Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We were able to flow as a team," Smith said. "We were very unselfish in the third quarter and that is what extended the lead."

In a game of big runs, the Heat got off to a quick start. They took an 18-5 lead after Udonis Haslem's tip-in with just over five minutes left in the first. However, Atlanta would battle back and trailed just 25-20 at the end of the quarter.

"Coming out the gates like we did, it was frustrating because we had them right where we wanted them," Heat forward Shawn Marion said. "Then we started playing their game. They lulled us to sleep. Everything was slow and lethargic out there and for some reason, we were in a hole and looking up, but it wasn't coming any closer to us."

Atlanta carried its momentum into the second quarter, staging a 17-5 run to take a 41-36 lead after Smith's dunk. After the Hawks' third-quarter showing blew the game open, they led by double digits the rest of the game.

"They took advantage of our laziness and our mistakes," Wade said.

Wade, the league's leading scorer, posted 21 points and eight assists but shot just 9-of-24 from the field. Rookie Mario Chalmers added 14.

"(Wade) is such a tough player to guard," Woodson said. "He's a beautiful player to watch play. I thought we did a total team effort on him."

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