Hawks vs. Grizzlies
When: 8 tonight
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
TV, radio: SportSouth (Charter channel 36); 790-AM
Web site: www.nba.com/hawks
ATLANTA — Flip Murray scored 17 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks reserves past the Miami Heat scrubs 81-79 Tuesday night in a playoff preview that was more like a preseason game.
With both teams locked into their postseason position — they’ll play Game 1 in Atlanta this weekend — there was little incentive for either to give significant minutes to top players. They didn’t.
Miami star Dwyane Wade, coming off a career-best 55 points against the New York Knicks, didn’t even bother dressing. Neither did Jermaine O’Neal or Udonis Haslem, the latter recovering from a deep cut on his right thumb.
Michael Beasley led the Heat with 23 points and 13 rebounds in only 24 minutes.
The Hawks rested Maurice Evans and Zaza Pachulia, and kept their starters on the bench much of the night. Speedy Claxton, a $25 million free-agent bust, actually played for the first time in more than two years.
Neither team had any starters on the court in the decisive final minute. The Heat had five cracks at a tying basket on one possession, but couldn’t convert, though Wade was impressed with the effort. Watching from the bench in a burnt orange sportcoat and tie, he jumped to his feet waving a towel.
Miami built a 30-20 lead early in the second quarter, then managed only two more baskets the rest of the half. The Hawks closed on an 18-4 run for a 38-34 lead at the break. The game — using that term loosely — was tied at 64 going to the final quarter. The Heat went more than 41/2 minutes before getting their first basket of the period.
The Hawks led the rest of the way, despite shooting just 42 percent from the field. The Heat were even worse at just under 40 percent.
Claxton was the main attraction. He signed a four-year deal in 2006 to be the Hawks’ starting point guard, but injuries and poor play made him persona non grata in Atlanta. He had not played since March 3, 2007, when he turned in 15 scoreless minutes against the New York Knicks.
"Oh my God, it’s been so long," Claxton said before the game. "I’ve been nervous since yesterday. It’s like my rookie year all over again."
Claxton played 7 minutes, missing his only two shots, doling out one assist, and put up an airball on a free throw attempt, drawing groans from fans who still wonder why the Hawks gave him so much money. But he swished the second for his first point of the season, which averages out to $5.7 million per point.
Notes: The Hawks drew an announced crowd of 18,179 to their regular-season finale, leaving their season average at 16,748. That’s their highest since 1997-98, when they averaged 17,249. ... Atlanta travels to Memphis on Wednesday night to close the regular season. Miami finishes at home against Detroit. ... Beasley had his eighth double-double of the season.