The Heat took their spot on top of the Eastern Conference for one day and proceeded to give it right back to the Pacers, after losing to the Hawks, 98-85. The loss drops the Heat record to 54-26 (identical to the Pacers record), but Indiana owns the tie-breaker due to a better conference record.
For the Heat, LeBron James finished with a game-high 27 points, along with a team-high eight rebounds and five assists. Dwyane Wade returned to action and supplied 24 points in 23 minutes. Chris Bosh added 11 points.
The Heat came out the gates sluggish on defense, and allowed the Hawks to take a 28-23 lead after the first quarter. They responded well in the second, taking that quarter by five to tie the game at 49 going into halftime. The offense sputtered badly in the third quarter, only scoring 13 points and falling behind 69-62 heading into the fourth quarter. The Heat defense failed the Heat when they needed it the most, as they suddenly lost the ability to get stops on defense.
This was an ugly game for Miami. From the 20 turnovers which lead to numerous points for the Hawks, the 18 assists that showed a lack of ball movement, or the inexplicable 25 3-pointers taken when only six were made. The Heat seemed to really lack energy and effort tonight, especially on the defensive end. For a game like this to happen so close to the playoffs is a little concerning.
The Heat’s next game is Monday, as they travel to Washington to take on the Wizards (42-38). The tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.