MIAMI -- Whenever the Miami Heat appear to be slipping, they turn up the defense. No one has done that any better against Atlanta this season.
Dwyane Wade had 28 points and eight rebounds, Michael Beasley scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half and the Heat snapped a three-game skid by easily beating the sputtering Hawks 92-75 on Monday night.
"We're far from a perfect group," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But this group does have a spirit and they enjoy coming to work, and even though we went through a very tough stretch ... we've shown an ability to bounce back and have some resiliency, and it was a strong and important win."
Miami held Atlanta to season lows in points (29.9 below its average) and field-goal percentage (35.2), plus held a dominant 52-30 edge in rebounding.
"Unacceptable, how we played tonight," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said.
Jamal Crawford scored 23 points off the bench for the Hawks, who have lost four straight for the first time since January 7-13, 2009.
"If we would've put a little more effort in, it would have been a different story," point guard Mike Bibby said.
Joe Johnson scored 11 and was the only starter in double figures for Atlanta, which is 2-6 since Dec. 19 and 1-6 this season when scoring fewer than 96 points.
"It happens," Hawks center Al Horford said. "That's the way the season is. There are highs and lows. Right now, this is our low."
Atlanta has been Miami's nemesis in recent years, winning 11 of the last 16 meetings including postseason, plus knocking out the Heat in Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference opening-round series.
Maybe it was those numbers, maybe it was the memory of wasting an early 19-point lead against Charlotte two nights earlier. Something clearly spurred on the Heat early.
"We just wanted to finish like professionals," Beasley said.
Miami made its final seven shots of the first quarter, fueling a 15-2 run that built a 30-14 lead, and the Heat were off and running. Beasley drove for an easy basket, unable to contain his smile as the Heat went up 44-21 midway through the second quarter, and the lead ballooned to as much as 25 before Atlanta outscored Miami 8-0 to make it 51-34 at intermission.
Even with that spurt, the opening two quarters were a debacle for the Hawks. Atlanta set a season low in first-half scoring (previously 41), got outrebounded 28-13 in the first 24 minutes, and really was only saved from a complete blowout by Crawford -- who had 15 points by the break, while the rest of his teammates managed only 19 on 7-of-27 shooting.
"I thought we started this game off kind of like we did the Charlotte game, with a lot of energy early on, defensively making it tough on guys," Wade said. "We kept playing consistent throughout the game. Even when they made a run, defensively we still had a lot of energy, we kept rebounding the ball and gave ourselves a chance."
The Hawks settled in during the third quarter, getting 14 points from the starting backcourt of Johnson and Bibby after they combined for only four in the opening half. But Wade scored nine in the period to ensure the early Heat cushion stayed relatively intact, and Miami took a 73-58 lead into the fourth.
The Heat were without C Jermaine O'Neal (hip flexor and groin strain). Miami's hopeful he can play Wednesday at home against Boston. ... Beasley's 20-point first half tied his career best. ... Crawford went over the 9,600-point mark for his career. He's averaging 25.6 points against the Heat in his last 10 games. ... Magloire played in his 600th career game. It was the 200th with at least four fouls. ... Iowa's fight song was played during a third-quarter timeout, a nod to the legions of Hawkeyes fans at the game. Iowa plays Georgia Tech in Tuesday night's Orange Bowl.
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