Beasley gets Heat started, Wade finishes with 28 and Miami rolls past Atlanta

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The Miami Heat ended their losing streak by taking advantage of a team suffering through a nasty skid of its own.
Dwyane Wade had 28 points and eight rebounds, Michael Beasley scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half and the Heat snapped a three-game skid by easily beating the sputtering Atlanta Hawks 92-75 on Monday night.
"We're far from a perfect group," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But this group does have a spirit and they enjoy coming to work, and even though we went through a very tough stretch ... we've shown an ability to bounce back and have some resiliency, and it was a strong and important win."
Miami held Atlanta to season lows in points (29.9 below its average) and field-goal percentage (35.2), plus held a dominant 52-30 edge in rebounding.
"Unacceptable, how we played tonight," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.
Udonis Haslem scored 12 points, while Quentin Richardson and Toronto native Jamaal Magloire each added 10 rebounds for Miami, which moved within 31/2 games of Atlanta for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jamal Crawford scored 23 points off the bench for the Hawks, who have lost four straight for the first time since January 7-13, 2009.
"It happens," Hawks centre Al Horford said. "That's the way the season is. There are highs and lows. Right now, this is our low."
Elsewhere in the NBA it was: Oklahoma City 98 Chicago 85; New Orleans 91 Utah 87; and Los Angeles Clippers 105 Portland 95.
At Miami, Joe Johnson scored 11 and was the only starter in double figures for Atlanta, which is 2-6 since Dec. 19 and 1-6 this season when scoring fewer than 96 points.
"If we would've put a little more effort in, it would have been a different story," point guard Mike Bibby said.
Atlanta has been Miami's nemesis in recent years, winning 11 of the last 16 meetings including post-season, plus knocking out the Heat in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference opening-round series.
Maybe it was those numbers, maybe it was the memory of wasting an early 19-point lead against Charlotte two nights earlier. Something clearly spurred on the Heat early.
"We just wanted to finish like professionals," Beasley said.
Miami made its final seven shots of the first quarter, fuelling a 15-2 run that built a 30-14 lead, and the Heat were off and running. Beasley drove for an easy basket, unable to contain his smile as the Heat went up 44-21 midway through the second quarter, and the lead ballooned to as much as 25 before Atlanta outscored Miami 8-0 to make it 51-34 at intermission.
Even with that spurt, the opening two quarters were a debacle for the Hawks. Atlanta set a season low in first-half scoring (previously 41), got outrebounded 28-13 in the first 24 minutes, and really was only saved from a complete blowout by Crawford - who had 15 points by the break, while the rest of his teammates managed only 19 on 7 of 27 shooting.
"I thought we started this game off kind of like we did the Charlotte game, with a lot of energy early on, defensively making it tough on guys," Wade said. "We kept playing consistent throughout the game. Even when they made a run, defensively we still had a lot of energy, we kept rebounding the ball and gave ourselves a chance."
The Hawks settled in during the third quarter, getting 14 points from the starting backcourt of Johnson and Bibby after they combined for only four in the opening half. But Wade scored nine in the period to ensure the early Heat cushion stayed relatively intact, and Miami took a 73-58 lead into the fourth.
Thunder 98 Bulls 85
At Chicago, Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant added 25 and Oklahoma City dominated the third quarter in a victory over the Bulls.
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Hornets 91 Jazz 87
At Salt Lake City, Chris Paul stole the ball and drove for a layup with 27 seconds left to help New Orleans end a late threat for its first victory in Utah in almost four years.
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Clippers 105 Trail Blazers 95
At Los Angeles, Chris Kaman scored 20 points, Eric Gordon added 19 and the Clippers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Portland.

Organizations: Miami Heat

Geographic location: Miami, Atlanta, Oklahoma City Toronto Chicago Salt Lake City New Orleans Utah Los Angeles Portland

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