The depleted Miami Heat fall to the Atlanta Hawks on the road

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 18: Taurean Prince
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 18: Taurean Prince /

A late game push was not enough to propel the Miami Heat past the Atlanta Hawks.

Fighting through a stomach illness, Dion Waiters took the court on Monday night with a depleted Miami Heat roster, to face off against the Atlanta Hawks. The 30th game of the Heat’s 30th season, the contest was a chance for the Heat to reach two games over .500 for the first time since 2015-16.

Just as important as maintaining a winning record, this game presented an opportunity for some of the Heat’s deep-bench players, namely Jordan Mickey and Derrick Walton Jr. In keeping with the team effort preached by head coach Erik Spoelstra, both Mickey and Walton entered the game by the mid-point of the first quarter. But only Mickey would become a mainstay, earning 23 minutes compared to Walton’s six.

Mickey proved his worth tonight, stringing together his second game with a block and at least 20 minutes played. The third-year forward from Louisiana State University also knocked down his first career 3, a swish from the right corner during the second quarter, as part of nine points and 10 rebounds on the night.

Mickey’s perseverance also might have instilled confidence in Spoelstra; he’s playing more due to the Heat’s swath of injuries, but his conditioning and game-ready mentality slotted in nicely with the Heat, adding a versatile, six-foot-eight defender with a jump shot, to stretch the floor.

Just as the Heat’s younger players earned some time, so did veteran Udonis Haslem, who suited up for his fourth game this season, after Mickey committed his third first-half foul. In a minute of play, Haslem amassed an offensive rebound and a buzzer beater to end the first half, his second basket of the season. As it stands, Haslem needs to enter 20 more games to pass Dwyane Wade to lead the Heat in all-time games played.

Despite trading leads throughout the first half and only trailing by one to enter the third quarter, Miami allowed Atlanta to shoot 59 percent from the field. Once again, the Heat’s third quarter shooting woes resurfaced, as the Heat made just 6-of-21 shots through the quarter, while allowing Atlanta to erupt for a 13-point lead behind efforts from John Collins and Dennis Schröder.

A 12-2 run for the Heat, sparked by eight fourth quarter points from Waiters and a Tyler Johnson dunk, revitalized Miami, trimming the Hawks’ lead to four with 3:41 to play. The run however, bookmarked by aggressive defensive efforts, including a monstrous Bam Adebayo rebound which sent Hawks’ Ersan Ilyasova careening to the hardwood, didn’t proved to be enough. And so, Miami fell to Atlanta, 110 to 104.

Next: The Miami Heat open two-game road trip in Atlanta

The Heat will try and overtake a .500 record again on Wednesday, in their second contest against the Boston Celtics.