“They did a great job,” James said. “They raised the lead for us and we needed every bucket. Tonight was one of those division games, one of those hand-to-hand combat games, and it’s always good to get a win on the road.”
Haslem absorbed much of that hand-to-hand combat during his one-one-one matchups with Pachulia, the Hawks’ reserve center with a league-wide reputation for his tough and physical style of play. Sometimes, Pachulia goes a bit too far, though. In the third quarter he picked up a technical foul for trying to sweep the legs of Haslem, who was standing over Pachulia after a play.
“We expected a physical game,” Haslem said. “Sometimes we get tangled up and tempers flair but, all in all, I look forward to the challenge of playing against Zaza and guys who like to be physical.”
A pair of free throws by Bosh gave the Heat an 82-73 lead with 7:52 left in the game, but Atlanta erased the deficit with tough baskets inside by Josh Smith and Kyle Korver. A three-pointer by Jeff Teague with four minutes left tied the score at 85, and the Hawks took the lead on a driving layup by Al Horford.
Bosh tied the score with a pair of free throws and then drilled a 20-footer in transition on a steal by Rashard Lewis. The jump shot gave Bosh six points to begin the fourth quarter.
A smooth 17-foot fade-away jumper from the right baseline by Allen put the Heat ahead 91-89 with 1:22 to play. Allen had 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
“That’s why they’re the defending champs,” said Teague who led the Hawks with 20 points and 11 assists. “They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”