MIAMI (AP)—Zaza Pachulia’s right eye was black, and his face was dotted with nicks and scrapes.
“I look like Rocky Balboa,” the Atlanta forward said.
Fought like him, too.
So did the rest of the Hawks, who finally showed they can take a punch on the road at playoff time.
Mike Bibby scored 15 points, Pachulia had 12 points and 18 rebounds, and Atlanta frustrated an ailing Dwyane Wade endlessly to beat the Miami Heat 81-71 Monday night, tying the first-round Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.
It was Atlanta’s first road postseason win in nearly 12 years, a stretch spanning 13 games, and ended a slide where the Hawks got pounded by 132 points in their most recent five playoff games played away from home.
“It’s not over,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “We’ve got to go home now. We survived this trip and we’ve got to go home and handle our business at home in Game 5.”
That comes Wednesday, and all the Hawks need is to defend their home court twice to get a second-round shot against LeBron James and Cleveland.
Wade scored 22 points, shooting 9-for-26 and wincing from back spasms that started at the morning shootaround, flared in the first quarter and continued from there. Jermaine O’Neal scored 20 points and James Jones added 19—10 of them coming in a spectacular first-half spurt—for the Heat, who shot 38 percent and never led.
“I hope that everyone understands that this is the playoffs,” Wade said. “This is how it’s going to be. We’ve got to go up to Atlanta, in a hostile environment, and play the same way we’ve been playing.”
First, though, the Heat will see if Wade can get his back right.
He was hurting so badly, Jones said, that “any other player probably would have sat out.”
“We didn’t do a good job lifting him up tonight,” Jones said.
Knowing the Hawks would want no part of a 3-1 deficit, the Heat expected Atlanta’s best shot.
They got it.
The Heat shot 5-for-23 in the first 21 minutes, digging a 21-point hole. At one point, Miami nearly had as many fouls (15) as points (19), Wade had four airballs (arguing he was fouled on two), and the Heat were unraveling.
“He’s still going to score points but we made him work on every play,” said Hawks guard Flip Murray, who scored 11 points. “A total team effort. Every time he got past one guy, there was another guy there to contest.”
When Pachulia tipped in Murray’s missed 3-pointer for a 44-23 lead, he looked at his teammates on the Atlanta bench and started punching the air.
“Zaza was huge throughout the whole game,” Woodson said. “I mean, 18 rebounds, 12 points for us, and we needed all that tonight to survive.”
Coincidentally, when Pachulia started punching, Miami started to fight.
A 19-2 run closed the half, with Jones needing only 41 seconds to get 10 points—the last eight coming in (probably) never-before-seen fashion, with a pair of four-point plays 11 seconds apart.
The Heat sharpshooter made a 3-pointer with 2:26 remaining, got fouled by Solomon Jones and swished the free throw. Miami immediately got the ball back when Bibby ran over Mario Chalmers, and with 2:15 left, James Jones struck again.
He connected from the left side, got fouled by Bibby, made that free throw as well and Miami clawed within 46-42 at halftime.
Even the Elias Sports Bureau, which tracks nearly every stat imaginable, didn’t know if anyone else had pulled off that feat as quickly as Jones. Others have made a pair of four-point plays in a game, including Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady.
Longtime Heat assistant Keith Askins did it in an NCAA game for Alabama against Florida on March 12, 1989, his 4s coming 51 seconds apart.
“It was crazy,” Jones said. “The second time, I was kind of shocked.”
Either way, it was for naught. Atlanta’s lead was never smaller than three after halftime.
“This is the playoffs,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We just have to focus the next 48 hours on getting healthy, getting our minds right, getting prepared and going up there and getting a game.”
The Heat granted reserve C Mark Blount a leave of absence to tend to personal matters related to the death of a close relative in Haiti. … Seven players had two fouls before the game was 13 minutes old.