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Hawks look to limit Wade's impact

POSTED: April 24, 2009 12:05 a.m.

MIAMI Udonis Haslem has played alongside Dwyane Wade for six years, and still hasn’t seen everything in his Miami Heat teammate’s arsenal.

"He’s going to do something at some point in the game that’s going to make you pause and say, ‘Did he really do that?"’ Haslem said.

In Atlanta on Wednesday night, Wade had more of those moments. A whole slew of them, on the way to a 33-point effort that sealed Miami’s 108-93 series-tying win.

The Hawks know Wade will get his points. But when Game 3 rolls around Saturday in Miami, Atlanta’s emphasis will be on slowing Wade’s supporting cast.

"One man can’t win a game," Hawks guard Joe Johnson said Thursday. "With his 33, it wouldn’t have mattered, it wouldn’t have hurt us if Jermaine O’Neal and (Daequan Cook) wouldn’t have had the big games they had."

Cook shook out of a weeks-long slump to score 20 points, going 6-of-9 from 3-point range. O’Neal scored 19 points, his most in more than a month. Haslem hit two clutch jumpers in the final minutes when Wade was on the bench with five fouls. Magloire played 11 minutes, didn’t take a shot and set the screen that freed Cook for his crucial first made shot of the night.

"Total team effort," Wade said.

Totally different from Game 1, in other words, when the Heat got walloped 90-64.

"It’s going to take a collective effort," Haslem said. "Obviously, we understand that Dwyane’s going to do his part. We’re going to need other guys to step up."

So now it’s the Hawks who’ll carry a sense of urgency, knowing they must eventually win on Miami’s home floor if they want to reach the second round and a possible matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Atlanta is 3-22 in road games against the Heat since the start of the 1996-97 season, but two of those wins have come in the last two years.

"We’ve just got to stay focused," Johnson said. "It’s a long series. We can’t get down on ourselves. We’ve got to stay focused, go to Miami and try to be the aggressor."

A year ago, the Hawks lost a first-round series to the Boston Celtics and their "Big 3" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

The Heat have a "Big 3" as well: Wade, TBA and TBA.

He’s the lone constant in Miami’s game plan. Some nights, it’s Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley helping out. On Wednesday, it was O’Neal and Cook carrying much of the scoring load. It can be maddening to the Heat, but also has been difficult for opponents to figure out.

"We’re screaming for consistency right now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday, while his team took a much-needed day off. "It’s the most important time of the year and we need guys to step up and play their role."

That being said, Wade is so vital to the Heat that Alonzo Mourning — distraught over the Game 1 loss — flew to Atlanta and sought a meeting in the star’s hotel room.

"You’re the leader," the now-retired center told him. "The team has followed you all year."

Wade listened. He led. The Heat followed.

And Miami wound up savoring a playoff victory for the first time in 1,038 days, going back to clinching the 2006 title in Dallas.

"They were physical, but it also helped that they were hitting outside shots," Hawks forward Al Horford said. "They hit 15 3’s. They shot 55 percent. Those are high percentages right there and it makes it hard for our guards to be able to come in and help. So we’ve got to make adjustments. ... Just like they made adjustments, we’ve got to make our own."

Wade and the Heat know the Hawks will throw a different look their way on Saturday.

But being at home — where Wade is 23-6 in his postseason career — should give Miami another boost as well.

"Going home, we’ve got to go out there and play with the energy our crowd gives us," Wade said. "But at the same time, we’ve got to play smart."



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