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December 11, 2012

Heat win again

MIAMI — LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade had 26 and the Miami Heat pulled away in the second half to beat the Atlanta Hawks 101-92 on Monday night, improving to 10-1 at home this season.

James (10-16) and Wade (11-13) made 21 of 29 shots for Miami, which shot 58 percent as a team. Chris Bosh had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Norris Cole scored 10 for the Heat, who handed the Hawks just their second loss in 11 games.

Josh Smith scored 22 points and Al Horford finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Atlanta, which briefly held the lead midway through the third quarter before the Heat got rolling and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Hawks in the Southeast Division.

Atlanta has dropped both games against Miami this season and is 1-7 against the Heat since March 2011.

A big third-quarter run put the Heat in control, and one of James’ best dunks this season helped seal it in the fourth. Cole took a pass from Ray Allen, dribbled once and nonchalantly flipped the ball toward the rim.

James did the rest.

Naturally.

James leaped — the top of his fingers stretched easily more than a foot above the basket — for a slam with 9:51 left, and the Heat weren’t threatened in the final minutes.

The Heat came into Monday night talking about how this particular game was significant for many reasons, foremost among them the Hawks’ position in the Southeast Division.

And while it’s way too early to take more than a passing interest in the standings, Miami had taken notice of Atlanta’s early success.

“We’ve been watching,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The up-close-and-personal view wasn’t a surprise, then.

Miami led 56-54 at intermission, a well-played half where neither team led by more than five points. The Heat shot 64 percent from the field in the opening two quarters, 50 percent from 3-point range — but a mere 44 percent from the line, part of the reason why the margin was only two points at the break.

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