THE FACTS: LeBron James has figuratively come off the deck lots of times in his career.
On Friday night he literally did so then keyed a gutsy effort by the Miami Heat in a 95-89 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at Philips Arena.
James came up one assist short of a triple-double, scoring 21 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out nine assists for the victorious Heat, who raised their record to 5-1 and got their six-game road trip off to a good start, despite playing without Dwyane Wade, who was sick and wasn't even at the arena.
He may have done his grittiest work in the second half, as he shook off the effects of a knee-to-knee collision with Atlanta's Josh Smith late in the second quarter. With the score tied at 89, James made a smart pass to teammate Ray Allen for the go-ahead field goal with 1:22 left, then, with 13.6 seconds remaining, made his only basket of the fourth quarter, a 20-foot jumper over Hawks defender DeShawn Stevenson, that iced the game.
James, shot 10-for-17 for the game, and while he only took seven shots in the second half (he made four of them), he handed out six assists, against only one turnover.
Miami's supporting cast also showed up, as Chris Bosh put in a game-high 24 points and made a key block on an Al Horford alley-oop pass, while, off the bench, Allen added 17, on 6-for-12 shooting, 3-for-5 from three and Udonis Haslem added 10 rebounds.
Point guard Jeff Teague had a 20-point, 11-assist double-double for Atlanta, which had its record evened at 2-2. Anthony Morrow also had a superb shooting game for the Hawks scoring a season-high 17.
The game was close throughout, as there were 16 ties and 14 lead changes.
QUOTABLE: "I was banged up at the end of the first half, but it was going to take a lot for me not to go out there and be with my teammates." -- James.
THE STAT: Points in the Paint: Miami 40, Atlanta 26: Heading into the game, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra was concerned about Atlanta's tendency to dominate inside. But Friday night it was the Heat that controlled the paint. Miami had a 40-26 edge in points in the paint and 24-12 edge in the second half, holding Atlanta below 50 percent in shots in the lane (6-for-14).
TURNING POINT: With just under 3:00 remaining in the game, the Hawks were on a 12-3 run that turned an 82-75 deficit into an 87-85 lead. But on the Hawks' possession following a Ray Allen miss, forward Kyle Korver attempted to grab a rebound of his own missed shot. As Korver battled for the ball with Heat guard Mario Chalmers, and after apparent contact with Chalmers, he was ruled to have lost the ball out of bounds. Miami got possession and closed the game on a 10-2 run.
QUOTABLE II: "We're a resilient team. We're going to keep fighting, playing hard and playing together. We did that, and we had opportunities in the fourth and that's all you can ask for." -- Teague.
HOT: Teague. Atlanta's point guard had a near-perfect night, shooting 7-for-8, inducing 2-for-2 from three and 4-for-4 from the foul line. Teague continued what has been a trend this season, as he is now shooting 60.0 percent for the season both from the floor (27-for-45) and from three (3-for-5) and he is perfect from the foul line (8-for-8). Honorable mention goes to Atlanta's Morrow, who came in with 2:46 left in the first quarter and over the next 5:07 went 4-for-4, hitting a pair of threes, a jumper and a lay-up.
NOT: While Hawks' guard Lou Williams had a tough night, going 0-for-6 and teammate Stevenson struggled (1-for-7, 1-for-5 from three, although he did have to guard LeBron), this is on the team. The entire Atlanta Hawks team, sans Teague, is nominated for its fourth-quarter drought that saw them score 18 points. Take away Teague's 2-for-3 shooting and 2-for-2 from three, the Hawks shot just 31 percent (5-for-16), and were 0-for-4 from three.
GOOD MOVE: Spoelstra inserted Rashard Lewis into the game at the three in place of Shane Battier with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter and Miami trailing by a point with two free throws remaining for Atlanta's Morrow. Morrow hit the two free throws, putting the Hawks up three, and the lead that would reach five but then Lewis took over. The 6-10 forward exploited his five-inch height advantage over Morrow, hitting a three to ignite a quarter-ending 8-2 run that cut Miami's deficit to one point, 72-71 after three. Lewis hit seven points in the run. Miami would start the fourth on a 10-2 run over the quarter's first four minutes, jumping out to its biggest lead of the game, 82-73.
BAD MOVE: Josh Smith was frustrated with the relentless defense of Miami's Battier in the first quarter, but continued to hoist up shots. He took eight in the 12 minutes, making only two of them and went scoreless over the final 10:24 of the quarter. During one near four-minute stretch, he missed four straight shots and had a turnover.
NOTABLE: Atlanta saluted veterans during a stoppage of play, requesting that they stand, while the crowd gave them a prolonged ovation...Smith paid tribute by wearing red, white and blue stars-and-stripes headband...A major scare for both teams came with 36.4 seconds left in the half when LeBron and Smith collided in the lane. James stayed on the floor but flexed his right knee repeatedly. Smith went straight to the locker room. Both started the second half and finished the game...James grabbed his 5,000th career rebound, pulling down a Smith miss with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter...Horford shot 5-for-9 for the game and has shot over 50 percent in all four of Atlanta's games this season...Atlanta's reserves scored 32 points, playing Miami's to a draw, despite Allen's 17 points in 24 minutes. They have not been outscored all season...Atlanta's Stevenson has not turned the ball over in 104 minutes of play...Miami won for the first time this season when shooting below 50 percent (48.7), below 40 percent from three (31.8) and making fewer than10 three-point field goals (7)...Among those in the crowd were Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, T.I., who was guest analyst on SportSouth, and Young Jeezy.
UP NEXT: For the Heat, Sunday @ Memphis, Monday @ Houston, Wednesday @ Los Angeles Clippers. For the Hawks, Sunday @ Los Angeles Clippers, Monday @ Portland, Wednesday @ Golden State.