(Miami, FL) — The first quarter could not have been scripted any better for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
The Heat not only led the Atlanta Hawks, 31-16, at the end of the first quarter, but they started out the game on a 14-0 run before the Hawks put any points on the board. During the opening quarter, Chris Bosh established himself down low by scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting. Norris Cole furthered his hold on the starting point guard position by posting seven points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field. Danny Granger even racked up six points on a couple of treys early on in the game.
Yet, it still wasn’t enough as the Heat (0-4) lost, 109-103, to the Hawks (2-1) to remain winless midway through the preseason.
While Miami excelled in the first quarter, it was Atlanta who dominated the remainder of the game. From the second quarter until the end of the fourth quarter, Atlanta outscored Miami by 21 points and bested them on the boards with a plus-11 margin. Although the Heat led by as many as 19 points in the first half, they trailed by as many as 20 in the second half.
Consistency has been a big issue for the Heat all preseason long, and the loss to Atlanta was the epitome of the franchise’s lack of consistency. Never was this more evident than the team’s third quarter performance.
The Hawks outscored the Heat, 43-18, in the third. While Atlanta shot a scorching 64 percent from the field, Miami shot just 37 percent. The Heat lost the rebounding battle, 14-5.
Bosh once again led the team in scoring with 23 points and nine boards. Dwyane Wade had 16 points on 4-of-12 shooting, while Shabazz Napier continued to impress with 12 points and four assists in 24 minutes of action.
Cole started his third consecutive game at point guard, while Mario Chalmers sat out due to a hip pointer. Granger was included in the starting lineup, as Spoelstra continues to shuffle lineups each and every game.
The one thing that’s been consistent of Miami’s performance in the preseason through four games is their resiliency. If there’s been one bright spot of the team’s play, it’s that they’ve consistently battled back from large deficits in their last three preseason games. While they were unable to force a third consecutive overtime game, the Heat clawed back from a 16-point deficit to cut the score to 103-99 with two minutes remaining in regulation.
In a three-and-a-half minute span beginning at the 5:35 mark in the final quarter, Miami went on a 15-3 run. Napier and Shannon Brown jumpstarted the run as the rookie scored five points and the shooting guard scored four during the spurt.
However, Atlanta finished strong as Adreian Payne converted on a layup following a timeout at the 1:55 mark. After Wade converted on one of two free throws attempts, the Hawks’ John Jenkins nailed a three-pointer to push Atlanta’s lead to eight.
Despite the Hawks leading 108-102 with 14 seconds remaining in the game, the Heat had a chance to push yet another contest into overtime when Wade went to the charity stripe after being fouled on a three-point shooting attempt. Wade would miss the first two of those attempts, before converting on the third. The guard’s trip to the line would mark Miami’s last gasp before losing for the fourth consecutive game.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 23 points on 9-of-14 from the field in 25 minutes of action. Franchise center Al Horford played in his first game since tearing his pectoral muscle on December 26, 2013. He started alongside Millsap, and scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting with two assists and one rebound in 11 minutes on the court. The former All-Star did not play in the second half. Kyle Korver paced Atlanta’s huge third quarter as he scored 17 points with five treys during the game.
The Heat will look to win their first preseason game when they travel to Kansas City, Missouri to take on the Golden State Warriors (3-0) on Friday night.