Hawks Vs. Heat: LeBron James' Return Can't Stop Miami's Skid

Had the Miami Heat been fully healthy, the Atlanta Hawks, a very solid team playing particularly well of late, would have presented a test for a Heat team just coming off of a Western road trip. In Al Horford, Atlanta has the size to give Miami trouble in the paint on mid-range jumpers (which Horford hits at a remarkable rate), and there's just enough star power in Joe Johnson and Josh Smith to neutralize or close the gap on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade significantly.

But the Heat aren't healthy. Chris Bosh sat for Hawks-Heat, and Atlanta took advantage en route to a 93-89 road overtime win. LeBron returned from his two-game absence to play 44 minutes. Joel Anthony filled in for Bosh; Joel Anthony took exactly zero shots and zero free throws en route to zero points. He did, however, have 16 rebounds and three blocks. He ended up with center duties in relief of Zydrunas Ilgauskas much of the night, forcing LeBron to play long stretches at power forward.

Also, Anthony suffered grave indignity at the hands of Smith, which is not particularly rare.

LeBron scored 34 on the night, but took 10 three-pointers on his way there. LeBron isn't a particularly good three-pointer shooter; it is unsurprising that he made just two of the 10 attempts. Dwyane Wade took four bombs of his own, and missed all of 'em. But what stood out the most was the shot distribution in overtime. Mind you, neither of the two stars shot particularly well in regulation; LeBron had been 7-24 and Wade was 8-20. In overtime, James took six of Miami's nine shots. Wade took zero. With the Hawks up two and 7.7 seconds on the clock in OT (one second on the shot clock), LeBron missed a three that essentially clinched the game for Atlanta.

As with the Saturday loss in Chicago, during which LeBron did not play and Bosh missed the fourth quarter, it's an understandable loss unworthy of panic for the Heat. That doesn't mean you can't look at the box score and worry a little about whether the team can hold up with such a thin frontcourt, or whether LeBron can commit to letting his designated shooters take the threes, or whether the two stars have really figured out how to work together in crunch time to get wins. We'll see.

Peachtree Hoops readily admits that the game was won in ugly, ugly fashion. For Heat fan reaction, check out Peninsula Is Mightier.

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