Heat rolls past Hawks for 19th consecutive win

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- LeBron James made only three shots Tuesday night.
He scored fewer than 20 points for the second consecutive game, and he fell short of a double-double -- a rare off night for the reigning league MVP.
And it didn't affect the Miami Heat's winning streak a bit.
The Heat rode a balanced offensive effort to a 98-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena, earning their 19th consecutive game.
Miami extended the NBA's longest streak this season and matched a run by the 2008-09 Boston Celtics for the longest by a defending champion. The run is also tied for the fifth-longest ever with the '08-09 Celtics and the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers.
James did not play in the fourth quarter, and all the Heat starters were out with 5:58 to go and Miami comfortably in front, 92-70.
James went 3-for-11 from the field, but he still finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He had a 13-point effort against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
"It's no pressure for any of us to score or do more than you have to," James said of the streak. "I'm all about winning. To go out and not have to play the fourth quarter the past two games is cool."
Dwyane Wade kept the Heat (48-14) on track with a game-high 23 points, six assists and five steals. The latter statistic extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one steal to 23. Wade went 9-for-18 from the field, marking the 11th consecutive game he's shot 50 percent or better. Wade has shot 59.8 percent (113-for-189) during that run.
Udonis Haslem had only six points, but he finished with 11 rebounds, including 10 in the first half. Chris Bosh had 14 points, and guard Mario Chalmers remained red hot with 14 points, thanks largely to a 4-of-7 performance from 3-point range. Chalmers has gone 15 of 21 from the field (71.4 percent) and 11 of 16 from 3-point range (68.8 percent) his past three games.
"This box score shows that we got to our identity," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Being disruptive defensively, and we got out of our comfort zone and were able to force a lot of mistakes."
Miami beat Atlanta for the seventh consecutive time and secured its fifth regular-season sweep of the Hawks all-time, winning all four games this season. It's the Heat's first sweep of the Hawks since the 2006-07 season. The Heat increased its cushion for the top spot in the Eastern Conference to 9 1/2 games over the idle New York Knicks and Pacers.
Atlanta committed a season-high 24 turnovers.
"In the first quarter, we had six turnovers, which is a recipe for disaster on the road against a team as good as the Heat," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "Then we turned it over five times in the second quarter. Tonight we got very careless of the basketball, and we just didn't take care of the ball."
The reeling Hawks (34-29) dropped their third game in a row and sixth in the past seven. Atlanta remains tied with the Celtics for the sixth seed in the East.
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 15 points, and Al Horford and Jeff Teague each finished with 12 points. Smith and Horford had six rebounds apiece.
The Heat outrebounded the Hawks 45-43, but Miami had a 24-14 edge in the first half.
The Heat also found its way to the foul line drastically more than the Hawks in the first half to take a 13-point lead at the break. Miami made 17 of 20 first-half free throws, while the Hawks had only one opportunity, with reserve Ivan Johnson going 2-for-2.
Miami finished 22-for-30 at the foul line. Atlanta went 10-for-14.
"We tried to make a conscious effort to get to the line in the second half," Smith said. "We got some calls, but their conversions off our turnovers played a part in our loss."
The Heat will try to become only the fifth team to win 20 consecutive regular-season games Wednesday when they face the 76ers in Philadelphia. The Heat has beaten the 76ers 13 consecutive times, including a 102-93 home victory last Friday.
The game is the first of a five-game road trip that continues at Milwaukee (Friday), Toronto (Sunday), Boston (Monday) and Cleveland (March 20). The Heat haven't had trouble keeping the streak going on the road, recently sweeping a four-game trip with wins at Oklahoma City, Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
"We're not pausing to think about it because we have to play like in five minutes," Wade joked. "Whenever the streak ends, then I'll pause. I'm enjoying these moments. This is a great group of guys, and I'm playing with a couple of my best friends. I couldn't script it any better."
NOTES: Hawks center Zaza Pachulia missed his fifth consecutive game with a sore right Achilles. Drew said there was still no official word when Pachulia would be back. ... Atlanta forward DeShawn Stevenson started Tuesday despite being limited Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets with a dislocated left middle finger. Drew was asked if the team considered holding Stevenson out until the Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Lakers, to which Drew responded: "It is just kind of a roll of the dice. We could use him both nights. Both positions that need to be defended, he can defend both, so why not tonight?" ... The Heat signed veteran forward Juwan Howard to a second 10-day contract. ... The Heat honored former forward P.J. Brown as part of its "25 years of Heat" ceremonies. Brown played four seasons with Miami from 1996-2000 and earned NBA All-Defensive second team honors during the 1996-97 and 1998-99 seasons.

What to Read Next