By PAUL NEWBERRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — LeBron James scored 23 points, Dwyane Wade added 21 and the Miami Heat blew out the Atlanta Hawks 107-87 on Sunday night after racing to a 22-point lead at halftime.
The Heat made a big statement in the Southeast Division against the second-place Hawks, leading by as many as 32 in what turned into nothing more than a showcase for Miami's Big Three.
By halftime, Wade already had 21 points, James was rolling along with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Chris Bosh put a double-double in the books with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Heat went to the locker room with a commanding 63-41 advantage, the Hawks having surrendered their most points in a half this season.
Miami won for the 10th time in the last 12 games.
Bosh finished with 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds. James grabbed 13 rebounds and doled out six assists. Wade had a couple of steals and blocked a shot.
The Hawks starters — four of whom were averaging in double figures — combined for just 40 points, led by Joe Johnson with 12. Willie Green actually led with 17 points, the reserves getting plenty of playing time as coach Larry Drew emptied his bench in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta lost for the fourth time in its last five home games, the average margin in those defeats nearly 15 points. Even more troubling, Atlanta has fallen behind by at least 20 points in all four losses.
The first two meetings between the division rivals were much more competitive. Atlanta pulled off a stunning 100-92 win in Miami on Jan. 2, but the Heat bounced back three days later on the Hawks' home court for a 116-109 victory in triple overtime. James and Wade missed that second meeting, but Bosh carried the load with 33 points and 14 rebounds.
This time, Miami was at full strength. The result was a laugher.
Atlanta actually led 13-8 in the early going, but this one got away from the Hawks in a hurry. Miami ripped off nine straight points to take control, including a soaring dunk by James off a pass from Wade that would be a telling sign of things to come.
The Hawks failed to score over the final 4:30 of the first quarter, missing their last seven shots. Miami closed the period on an 11-0 run for a 30-18 lead, and it could've been even worse — James zipped a pass to Udonis Haslem under the basket, but he missed the layup just before the buzzer as James punched at the air in frustration.
That was about the only lowlight for the Heat. James kept his foot on the pedal at the start of the second quarter, tipping in his own miss and knocking down two free throws to make it a 16-point game. The Hawks got a brief spark off the bench from Green, whose 3-pointer cut the deficit to 36-29 with about 7½ minutes remaining the in the half.
That was as close as the Hawks would get. Miami outscored the home team 27-12 the rest of the period, not shooting all that well but dominating the boards. The Heat finished the half with a staggering 31-13 rebounding edge.
Notes: Hawks C Jason Collins, out with a strained left elbow, will be evaluated Wednesday while the team is in Los Angeles. He said the movement in his arm is OK, but he'll have to build up the strength before he can return to the court. ... The Heat put five players in double figures. Mario Chalmers scored 15 and Norris Cole had 10. ... Atlanta's record dropped to 5-9 against teams that are above .500.
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