While Al Horford put forth a scintillating performance, hitting his first nine shots en route to a 27-point outing, it wasn't enough. LeBron James led the Heat with 24 points and 11 assists, and Dwyane Wade put in 20. Miami also got some much-needed bench production, with Shane Battier and Ray Allen tallying 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Amid rampant trade speculation, Josh Smith finished just shy of a triple-double for Atlanta, recording 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Let's examine how Miami was able to win this one.
1. Flipping the switch
The Heat certainly flipped the switch on Wednesday night. Trailing by 10 to open the fourth quarter, Miami outscored the Hawks 40-17, getting 13 points from Allen in the period. James did an incredible job of setting his teammates up with great passes, and the Heat defense simply made life miserable for Atlanta. This is what great teams do. They turn it on when they absolutely have to.
2. Bench production
Allen had been struggling mightily, and those struggles continued through the first three quarters in Atlanta. It was in the fourth quarter that he exploded, scoring 13 points and hitting a dagger three-pointer with just over three minutes remaining. He also flashed back to his Boston days by making a couple of great cuts toward the rim and ended up receiving passes for easy layups.
Battier was also huge, hitting five threes, including two big ones during Miami's fourth-quarter eruption.
Joel Anthony should also be mentioned for helping turn the defense around at the beginning of the final period.
3. Forced turnovers
The Heat flustered the Hawks into 21 turnovers on Wednesday night, and that was no doubt the biggest reason why Miami was able to come out on top in this one. After allowing Atlanta's offense to really get whatever it wanted in the middle quarters, the Heat defense swarmed all over the place in the final 12 minutes, taking the life out of the Hawks offense and making it incredibly difficult for them to do anything cleanly. The forced turnovers resulted in numerous transition buckets for Miami late in the game.
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