ATLANTA (AP) — LeBron James scored 21 points, including the clinching jumper with 13.6 seconds remaining, and Miami knocked off the Atlanta Hawks 95-89 on Friday night for the Heat’s fourth straight win.
Jeff Teague hit consecutive 3-pointers as the Hawks rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter. But Josh Smith, on an awful night, missed two free throws with just over a minute remaining, and James finished off Atlanta after the teams traded turnovers.
Everyone in the building knew James would shoot, but it didn’t matter. He muscled away from DeShawn Stevenson, swished a 15-footer and hopped along the sideline in front of the Atlanta crowd. The Heat won without Dwyane Wade, who didn’t play because of a cold.
Chris Bosh led Miami with 24 points. James just missed a triple-double, adding 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Teague paced the Hawks with 20 points.
With the Heat beginning a six-game road trip, Wade came down with a cold and stayed behind at the team hotel. The Heat didn’t want to take a chance on his condition worsening or spreading to his teammates.
Miami managed just fine without him.
It helped that Smith kept missing for the Hawks, perhaps because he was exhausted from guarding James much of the night.
Expected to take a lead role after Joe Johnson was traded to Brooklyn, Smith went 6 of 19 from the field and connected just one time on five attempts from the foul line. Even the one he made was ugly, a banked-in shot late in the first half after he put up an airball on his first attempt.
Smith was fouled going for an offensive rebound with 1:05 remaining, sending him to the line with Miami clinging to a 91-89 lead. Both shots clanked off the rim, allowing Miami to escape with another win at less than full strength.
Mike Miller, who started in place of Wade, scored only four points. But Ray Allen chipped in with 17 off the bench, going 3 of 5 beyond the 3-point arc.
Through the first three quarters, the game was tight — 25-25 at the end of the first, Atlanta leading 46-42 at the break, the Heat bouncing back for a 72-71 advantage heading to the final period.
Then, it looked as though Miami might pull away. The Heat clamped down on Atlanta defensively, sparking a 10-2 run that provided the biggest lead of the game for either team.
But Teague brought the Hawks back, the second of back-to-back 3s tying the game at 85 with 4:04 remaining. Atlanta actually pulled ahead 87-85 on Al Horford’s lay-in, but that was the last hurrah for the home team.
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