Miami (46-22) at Atlanta (39-29)

By ALAN FERGUSON, STATS Writer Thursday, Mar 17, 2011 Tipoff: 7:30 pm EDT Fri Mar 18, 2011

After being traded from the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Bibby(notes) walked away from millions of dollars to try to win a championship with Miami.

With the exception of a recent three-game win streak, the Heat haven’t looked like a title contender since Bibby’s arrival.

In the point guard’s first game against the Hawks, Miami will try to quickly regain its form Friday night at Philips Arena.

The Hawks (39-29) dealt Bibby to Washington on Feb. 23 as part of a five-player trade that brought guard Kirk Hinrich(notes) to Atlanta. Bibby played two games with the Wizards before reaching a buyout agreement on Feb. 28, one day before a deadline that allowed him to sign with another team and be eligible for a playoff roster.

The agreement allowed him to receive the remainder of his $5.6 million salary for this season, but forfeit the $6.2 million remaining on his contract.

“I just thought it would be a good move for me,” said Bibby, who averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 assists as a starter with Atlanta during his 13th NBA season. “I tried to see where I would fit in the best and help the most.”

Bibby said Thursday that he was looking forward to the reunion.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” he said. “I think it’s going to be fun. Good to see some of the old friends. I was good friends with people on the team, people in the organization. So I think it should be a good homecoming.”

When Bibby signed with Miami on March 2, the Heat (46-22) were in the early stages of a season-worst, five-game skid that included an infamous 87-86 defeat to Chicago, which some players reportedly shed tears over.

Miami bounced back from that slide with three straight wins, including victories over the Los Angeles Lakers and league-leading San Antonio. The Heat, though, couldn’t build off a 30-point drubbing of the Spurs as they fell 96-85 to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Miami shot just 38.5 percent—its third-worst effort of the season.

“We missed some pretty good chances,” said the Heat’s Chris Bosh(notes).

The Heat shot a season-low 36.4 percent in a 93-89 overtime loss to Atlanta on Jan. 18. LeBron James(notes) scored 34 points and Dwyane Wade(notes) had 27, but the Hawks had five players in double figures, including Bibby with 15 points.

Joe Johnson(notes) and Jamal Crawford(notes) each had a team-best 19 for Atlanta as it snapped a four-game slide to its Southeast Division rivals. The Hawks could use another win as they try to maintain their hold on fifth place in the Eastern Conference and move closer to clinching a fourth consecutive playoff berth.

Like Miami, Atlanta is looking to bounce back from a double-digit loss. After back-to-back wins, the Hawks had only two starters reach double figures during a 102-87 defeat to Denver on Wednesday.

Josh Smith(notes) scored 13 points and Johnson added 12. Zaza Pachulia(notes) had a season-high 19 off the bench.

“We’ve got to share the ball more,” said Al Horford(notes). “It shows we’re still an immature team. There’s no question something needs to be done.”

Horford had 22 points against Miami on Dec. 4, but the Heat’s trio of Wade, James and Bosh combined for 75 in an 89-77 win, which snapped the team’s five-game skid in Atlanta.

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Friday, Mar 18