Thursday, April 23, 2009
Miami Heat responds with convincing Game 2 victory over Hawks
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made his expectations clear in the first two ''keys'' to victory on the board in his team's locker room.
First message: Hit first.
Second message: Don't get punked.
Those were fighting words for the Heat. Having clearly challenged his team's pride after a 26-point loss in Game 1, Miami responded with a flurry to even the series in a 108-93 victory Wednesday at Philips Arena.
Held to 19 points in frustrating outing on Sunday, Wade regained his stroke and responded with 33 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Wade led the Heat to its first playoff win since it beat Dallas in Game 6 of the 2006 Finals to clinch the title.
Miami also accomplished something in one night that it was unable to do over the final three months of the regular season: snatch home-court advantage away from the Hawks.
Having evened the best-of-7 series at 1-1, the teams head to Miami to play the next two at AmericanAirlines Arena, with Game 3 on Saturday.
'The `Don't get punked,' -- we all understood what that meant,'' Wade said of the Heat, which had gone been 0-8 in Game 2 playoff games on the road before Wednesday.
``We came out and got into the fight early on. We didn't let them bring it to us. We didn't let them manhandle us.''
It was the exact opposite of the way Game 1 played out for the Heat, which set a franchise playoff record by making 15 three-pointers. Wade was 6 of 10 from three-point range, and set a playoff career high for makes.
So did sidekick Daequan Cook, who also made six threes and had 20 points off the bench.
The team broke the previous record of 13 in dramatic fashion, when Wade banked in a 29-footer from the right wing to beat the shot clock with 2:36 left to put the Heat up 101-91.
Mike Bibby had 18 points to lead the Hawks, who also got 17 points and 10 rebounds from Josh Smith.
A TEAM EFFORT
The Heat built an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, but had to overcome a late rally by the Hawks and foul trouble for Wade, who left the game with his fifth foul with 4:54 left.
But Wade came back to finish off the Hawks. He also had plenty of help.
Jermaine O'Neal, who had five points and two rebounds in Game 1, closed with 19 points and six boards Wednesday. Michael Beasley had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Udonis Haslem added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Heat, which shot 55.6 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from three-point range.
PLAYING WITH ENERGY
Before the game, Spoelstra vowed his team would play with far more energy and efficiency than it showed Sunday, when it set a franchise record for fewest points in a playoff game in the 90-64 loss.
That game got away in the second quarter, when the Hawks forced seven turnovers, suffocated Wade and outscored Miami 35-18 on the way to building a 27-point lead.
''Spo came down on us pretty hard,'' Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. ``The last two days, it's been all about getting into them and playing hard.''
The Heat avoided those first-half pitfalls on Wednesday, mostly because of Wade's hot shooting. He scored the final 13 points of the quarter for Miami, closing the half with three consecutive three pointers.
Miami was 15 of 26 from three-point range Wednesday, a significant improvement from the 4-of-23 effort it had beyond the arc in Game 1.
''We understand that [Sunday] was just an off game for them, and they believed that they weren't going to have another off game,'' Smith said.
The Heat also got rid of the turnovers from Game 1 and got back to rebounding. Miami shot 52.6 percent in the half, owned a 21-15 rebounding edge and limited Atlanta to 41.7 percent shooting early.
The same Heat team that trailed by 20 in the first half Sunday led 54-41 after the first half on Wednesday.
''We got a taste -- or whatever you want to call it -- of what it takes,'' Spoelstra said.
``It's a wake-up call. We've been a resilient group all year. We bounce back.''
Thank MICHAEL WALLACE of the Miami Herald for the story.