Monday, April 11, 2011
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Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA -- LeBron James scored 34 points and Miami held on for a 98-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks, who nearly rallied from a 20-point deficit while playing their backups against the Big Three in the fourth quarter Monday night.
Miami was looking to lock up the No. 2 seed in the East and played its starters all the way. The Hawks went to a makeshift lineup for the final period and nearly pulled it off.
The game turned ugly with 31/2 minutes to go. Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia powered inside for a basket. Zydrunas Ilgauskas took exception to the move and slammed the ball off Pachulia's back as he turned to head back down the court.
Ilgauskas was ejected, and the Hawks hit the technical free throw to tie it at 88. But Miami outscored the Hawks 10-2 the rest of the way.
The Hawks, who are locked into the fifth seed, pulled their starters for the fourth quarter. Pachulia, Powell, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Damien Wilkins held their own, actually outscoring Miami 23-19.
It wasn't enough.
Bosh drew a charging foul on Powell with just over a minute left, and James clinched it with his final basket of the night. The Big Three combined for 70 points, with Dwyane Wade adding 21 -- the bulk of his scoring coming in the first half -- and Bosh adding 15.
James also had 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 17 points, but it wasn't enough to prevent Atlanta from a season-high fifth straight loss -- hardly the way the team wants to go into a first-round playoff matchup with Orlando, a team that wiped out the Hawks in four straight games a year ago.