The current edition of the Miami Heat just maybe the most polarizing franchises currently playing in the Association. Fans of the NBA either idolize the Heat or despise them; there is nobody who rides the fence when it comes to the team from South Beach. Which ever way you lean on the issue; one has to admit that when they put on a performance as they did on Sunday at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, they are one tough team to beat.
LeBron James recorded a double-double with 23 points while Dwyane Wade scored 21 more as the Heat had their way with the Atlanta Hawks 107-87. Miami came out of the gate in control of this game and the Hawks never were really up to the task of challenging them. Only two players on the roster scored in double-digits with Willie Green coming off the bench to lead the club with 17 points as Atlanta shot an unimpressive 38.9% (35-90) from the floor for the game.
Atlanta took the lead initially in the opening period and the game was still tight with 6:11 remaining when Hawks guard Jeff Teague drained a 25 foot trey to knot up the score at 16-16. Miami would then accelerate their effort leaving the Hawks in the distance choking on exhaust fumes. Rookie guard Norris Cole connected on a pair at the line with 26 seconds left completing a 14-2 run as the Heat led 30-18 at the conclusion of the quarter.
The Hawks made a run early in the second as Green buried a 24 foot trey with 7:22 left in the period and Miami’s lead was down to 36-29. That was as close as the home team could get and they would soon fall even further behind as their opponents would go ahead by as much as 25 points in the period. James split a pair at the line just before time expired and the Heat would be on top 63-41 as the game reached the half.
If the Hawks or their fans had any hopes that they could come back in this game they would be ended quickly when the two teams returned to the floor in the third. The visitors would grab an 81-49 advantage with 4:11 left in the period when James hit a three point shot from 25 feet out. They would settle for leading 88-61 at the end of the quarter. The final 12 minutes of play was just extended garbage time as Miami would win in a rout.
James knocked down 23 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal in the victory for the Heat. Wade had 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block while Mario Chalmers scored 15 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound and 1 steal. Chris Bosh notched a double-double with 14 points, 16 boards, 2 blocks and 1 assist while Cole came off the bench and put up 10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Willie Green scored 17 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds to lead the Hawks. Joe Johnson was the only other player in double-figures as he had 12 points and 5 assists. Miami improves to 21-7 and will be in Milwaukee on Monday night as they face the Bucks while Atlanta has a record of 18-10 and they travel to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Tuesday.