So cruel, the Heat.
Atlanta owned this night at AmericanAirlines Arena. All night, Atlanta’s three-point shots dropped on the Heat with the devastation of Hawks in an angry dive. They’d made the Heat’s defense look as hapless as The Maginot Line and, once the Heat cooled off, looked well on their way to ending the Heat’s home winning streak.
No Dwyane Wade. Later, after an elbow to the jaw, no Chris Bosh, either. But the Heat still had a LeBron James, and could pull a Michael Beasley off the bench. And then a Ray Allen and, even for the last 2.3 seconds, Bosh.
Which is how the Heat outlasted the Hawks 121-119 in overtime Monday night. Allen got the Heat to overtime. Beasley provided the game-winning free throws. Bosh provided the long arms.
“The one thing I did like about this game, in the last couple of years with this group, if we’d given up 17 threes in a game, we don’t win that game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat’s ninth win in a row over the Hawks. “It would collapse our spirit and our mind.”
Beasley had 10 points. Allen had 19. James scored 38 points on 16 of 28 shooting, six of his last seven as the Heat came from 11 down in the second half. As remarkable, James had six assists without a turnover. About the only thing James didn’t do well was hit free throws (two of six).
“For the basketball aficionado out there, this is a game where you see his full skill set,” Spoelstra said.
With the Heat down 109-106, James scored on a driving dunk. Then, after a pair of free throws by Atlanta’s Jeff Teague (26 points), James informed Spoelstra he saw something in Atlanta’s defense that would allow him to get the ball to Allen.
James dished to Allen for a three-pointer out of the right corner. Allen couldn’t get three in one shot, but after being fouled by DeMarre Carroll, got the three in a hat trick of free throws.
In overtime, Beasley, who wound up playing 20:02 in his first action since injuring his hamstring eight games ago, went strong to the basket with the 9.2 seconds left and the Heat down 119-118.
Beasley missed off the glass, got his own rebound and drew the sixth foul on Atlanta’s Paul Milsap. That took 25 points out of the Hawks lineup for the possession after Beasley hit both free throws.
“I didn’t necessarily know how many minutes I could play him,” Spoelstra said. “I hadn’t seen him on the court in three weeks.”
The Heat originally went with with Allen, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and James for the final Atlanta possession, a smaller lineup that could defend from distance.
After a Chalmers foul, Spoelstra inserted Bosh for Allen put him on on the passer. Hawks center Pero Antic’s inbounds pass, altered by Bosh’s reach, caught Kyle Korver at the side of the basket with no angle.
At such close range, Korver lacked the accuracy that anguished the Heat throughout the night. Andersen rebounded and was fouled with three-tenths left.
Andersen hit the second of two free throws and batted away Atlanta’s desperation inbounds pass. The Hawks had come tauntingly close. They just couldn’t close out the Heat.