Hawks fall to 17-23 with loss to shorthanded Heat

Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) goes up for a shot as Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Atlanta. Hunter was playing in his first game since undergoing wrist surgery. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) goes up for a shot as Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Atlanta. Hunter was playing in his first game since undergoing wrist surgery. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

The Hawks (17-23) lost their ninth home game in a row, falling to the Heat, 115-91, Wednesday at State Farm Arena.

Next up, the Hawks will play the Heat (26-15) again, this time in Miami Friday.

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Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. The Hawks melted down in the third quarter, giving up a 16-0 run which put the Heat in front, 72-51, turning a five-point game at halftime into a dreadful blowout against a shorthanded Miami team. Struggling to make a shot (going 0-for-6 from 3-point range), the Hawks also became lackadaisical on defense and went on to lose the third quarter 30-16 and couldn’t recover.

“We just weren’t able to sustain, really, anything,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said of the third quarter. “It really started in the second quarter. They keep pressure on your defense with the movement and their offense, they do a good job of making you defend late into the shot clock, and we just were not disciplined enough to defend late in the shot clock. They were getting wide-open looks.

“You’ve got to be a multiple-effort (team) when you guard Miami, because they do a good job of moving the ball, moving bodies, and making you chase them. I thought the third quarter, they came out and jumped right on us. We came out flat, and they just really took control of the game.”

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Credit: ArLuther Lee

Credit: ArLuther Lee

2. For the first time since Nov. 12, De’Andre Hunter was available to play, returning from his right wrist injury to provide a small bright spot for Atlanta. Hunter finished with 15 points (3-for-4 from 3-point range), one block and one steal in 24 minutes off the bench. After a nagging knee injury cut his excellent sophomore campaign short last year, that wrist tendon injury had limited him to 11 games this season, before Wednesday’s game.

“It felt pretty good,” Hunter said of his wrist after the game. “It didn’t really bother me. Wasn’t really worried about it.”

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Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) reacts after being charged with a foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) reacts after being charged with a foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari (8) reacts after being charged with a foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. The Heat are a good defensive team (No. 7 defensive rating at 107.6, entering Wednesday), and despite missing Bam Adebayo (right thumb UCL reconstruction) and Jimmy Butler (right ankle sprain), managed to limit Trae Young to 15 points and five assists (he averages 28 points and 9.6 assists per game), with four turnovers. The Hawks overall were held to 37.8% from the field and 28.9% from 3-point range. Clint Capela (left ankle sprain) and Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) missed this game for Atlanta.

“(Caleb) Martin just did a good job of pressuring Trae,” McMillan said. “They didn’t do anything special on Trae. They put a bigger guard, a guy that, his total focus was to just stay in front of Trae. A couple times in pick-and-rolls they were trapping Trae. So they didn’t do anything that we weren’t prepared for. Martin did a good job of just staying in his face, keeping him in front.”

4. Tyler Herro came off the bench to lead the Heat in scoring with 21 points, adding 11 assists for a double-double. The entire second unit for Miami played well, amassing 55 bench points.

5. Granted, the Hawks were missing their starting center in Capela, but the Heat out-rebounded the Hawks, 59-47, tallying 46 points in the paint to the Hawks’ 30. Onyeka Okongwu started in Capela’s stead and finished with six points and seven rebounds.

Heat 115, Hawks 91

Stat of the game: 30-16 (what the Heat won the third quarter by, taking total control of the game)

Star of the game: Herro (came off the bench to lead Miami in scoring)

Quotable: “Togetherness, communication. ... But really, we need some damn heart. We’ve just got to come out there and play hard and want to win, and that’s the biggest thing.” (John Collins, who led the Hawks with 16 points and 11 rebounds, on what the team is missing)