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Postgame Breakdown: Hawks 105, Heat 90

ATLANTA - Comedian Chris Tucker sat courtside at Philips Arena for Wednesday's game between the Heat_Hawks_Bease Heat and Hawks. But not even he could find any humor in a once-proud Miami defense that has gradually become a joke in recent games.

The Heat's offensive struggles continued for yet another game. But it was Miami's defense - or inability to defend - that came back to haunt it the most in a 105-90 loss to the Hawks.

The Heat gave up 60 points in the first half and was dominated in the paint throughout the game. Length. Athleticism. Hustle. Composure. Any semblence of offensive rhythm. Those were all things that belonged to the other team again. Meanwhile, the Heat got a season-low 15 points from Dwyane Wade, 21 points and nine rebounds from Michael Beasley and 12 points from Jermaine O'Neal. Wade's franchise streak of consecutive 20-point games ended at 23.

But that hardly was enough to offset the balanced, dunking, streak-shooting Hawks. Joe Johnson scored 30 points to lead six Atlanta players in double figures. The tests continue to be tough for the Heat, which faces another long, athletic, hot-shooting, open-court team in Toronto on Friday.

"We have to develop some real toughness and resolve when we play teams like this on the road," coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat, which opened the season with 8 of its first 10 games at home but now faces its first significant stretch of road games. "We've had a real home-heavy schedule, so we're being tested right now."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade knows he's struggling. He didn't need to be reminded of his stats from recent games. On Wednesday, he was 6 of 18 from the field. On Tuesday, he was 6 of 19. The game before that, Wade tossed up an 8 of 17 effort. And the one before that, he was 9 of 17. "I got some real good looks, shots that I normally make in my sleep," Wade said. "I have to play through this and get myself back." The shooting slump hasn't been Wade's only problem. He's also committed 10 turnovers in the past two games. That's another product of facing taller, athletic defenders. Joe Johnson picked up where Thabo Sefolosha and Jamario Moon left off. Wade went through this before. He bounced back. There's a really, really, really good chance he will do so again.

TURNING POINT: The Hawks closed the second quarter out on a 28-8 run. There were Josh Smith dunks. Heat-Wade-Stinks There were Joe Johnson threes. There was even a moment when 6-11 Al Horford led a fastbreak that led to another basket by Johnson. The Hawks have the Heat's number right now. This was the same team that knocked the Heat out of the playoffs in seven games last season. Scratch that. These Hawks are better. Last year's team didn't have Jamal Crawford or Joe Smith, proven vets off the bench.

LOSING EDGE: The Heat was destroyed at times on the glass. Especially the offensive glass. The Hawks held a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounding. They cashed in to outscore the Heat 27-11 in second-chance points. This, again, is where height and length are huge advantages for the Hawks and disadvantages for the Heat.

HEAD SCRATCHER: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's search for answers, a spark, anything took him to the depths of the roster in the second quarter of Wednesday's game. Yes, the second quarter. One such five-man collection consisted of Carlos Arroyo, Daequan Cook, James Jones, Shavlik Randolph. Yes, Shavlik Randolph. And Joel Anthony. The best five at your local Y might give that squad a decent run. The Heat might have had more offensive punch on that squad of D-League players who were called up to finish Miami's dismal 15-67 season a couple of years ago. I might take my chances with Kasib Powell and Co.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Beasley bounced back from his zero-rebound performance against OKC last night to finish with 9 boards and a team-high 21 point. He couldn't take much comfort in the effort because it Beas-V-Hawks came in a loss. It's the second time in a week that Beasley had a productive game that didn't result in a win for the Heat. He had 24 points and six rebounds in last Thursday's loss to the Cavaliers. Still, these kind of numbers from Beasley aren't only encouraging, they're a necessity if the Heat is to be a threat.

NEXT UP: Heat at Raptors, Friday 7 p.m. Air Canada Centre

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)




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