Tim Hardaway is mired in the worst shooting stretch of his career, but that didn't deter him from scorching the Atlanta Hawks with five 3-pointers in the Miami Heat's 78-68 victory Wednesday.
Miami has won eight straight at home and 13 of its past 15 games. Orlando's loss to San Antonio means the Heat move into first place of the Atlantic Division for the first time this season.
"I'm not a shooter, I'm more of a scorer," said Hardaway, a career 45 percent shooter currently hitting under 37 percent from 2-point range but 45 percent from 3-point territory. "If that shot's there, I'm going to take it."
Hardaway was referring to the 3-point shot, of which he made 5 of 8, including two during Miami's decisive 16-2 run at the beginning of the third quarter that turned a 42-40 halftime lead into a 66-50 blowout after three.
"He (Hardaway) always has the green light to take those shots," said Heat coach Pat Riley. "He's made some big shots for us from there."
Hardaway, who scored 21 points, made just 2 of 10 from 2-point range, which was still better than Hawks' counterpart Mookie Blaylock, who was just 1 of 10.
"It was one of those nights where nothing would fall for me," said Blaylock, who scored four points, including a 3-pointer with 2:05 remaining. "It was like the goal was moving on me. At least I got one in."
"We played very aggressively , but offensively we couldn't put the ball in the basket," said Mutombo, who added seven rebounds in a foul-plagued 25-minute stint. "It had nothing to do with them. I got a few good looks, but it was just frustrating to miss shots so easy for you."
Grant Long scored six points to ignite a 12-4 Hawks run and cut Miami's 16-point lead to 70-62 early in the fourth quarter. However, P.J. Brown, who finished with 14 points, countered with two midrange jumpers, enabling Miami to assume control 76-64 with 4:01 remaining.
"We've been a second-half team all year," Brown said. "We came out and jumped on them in the third quarter, and that's the way it should be. We didn't have to rely on getting it done in the fourth quarter."
Hardaway's buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Miami a 42-40 halftime lead. Hardaway hit two more threes during a decisive 16-2 burst to begin the second half, staking Miami to a 58-42 lead with 6:36 left in the third quarter.
Miami outscored Atlanta 24-10 in the third quarter to take a 66-50 lead into the fourth quarter. Atlanta shot 4-of-19 and didn't make its first field goal in the third quarter until Smith's layup with 6:05 left.
"Shooting that poor doesn't help, because the Miami Heat's playing well," said Smith, who scored seven points below his season average. "They played real well and just beat us."
Following Dan Majerle's 3-pointer, Miami led 32-22 midway through the second quarter. Crawford scored eight points to spark a 16-5 Hawks' run, giving Atlanta a 38-37 lead.
- The Heat have allowed just one opponent to score 100 or more points this season, their lowest total after 19 games in franchise history. Atlanta has allowed just two teams to score over 100 points in its first 18 games.
- Hardaway's 3-pointer in the first quarter extended Miami's NBA record to 394 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer. Hardaway has made at least one 3-pointer in 23 straight games.
- Atlanta made just one of its first 10 shots Wednesday. Atlanta is 0-7 when trailing after three quarters.
- Alan Henderson was ejected with 2:23 left and had to be restrained from going after referee David Jones .
- Terry Porter played in his 300th straight game, the third longest active streak behin A.C. Green and Hersey Hawkins .
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