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Johnson leads Hawks as Heat's hot start goes cold

Joe Johnson scored 21 points, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith each added 15, and the visiting Atlanta Hawks easily erased a terrible start to beat the Miami Heat with ease last night, 87-73.

Joe Johnson scored 21 points, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith each added 15, and the visiting Atlanta Hawks easily erased a terrible start to beat the Miami Heat with ease last night, 87-73.

Maurice Evans scored 12 points and Al Horford finished with 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who scored the final 14 points of the third quarter, blowing open the game on the way to snapping a three-game losing streak.

Dwyane Wade had 21 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which lost for the first time in five games. The Heat missed nine straight shots during one second-half lull, were outscored 23-4 in fast-break points, and were a mere 4-for-10 from the foul line, compared with Atlanta's 24-for-32.

Rookie Mario Chalmers scored 14 points and Daequan Cook added 13 for the Heat, which finished with its second-lowest scoring total of the season.

The win, just Atlanta's third in Miami since Nov. 1, 1996, a span of 24 games, left the Hawks alone in second place in the Southeast Division and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference, the spots the Heat would have occupied by winning.

Miami scored the game's first 11 points and after 7 minutes, was shooting a sizzling 8-for-12, running out to an 18-5 lead.

Over the rest of the half, the Heat was 9-for-32. That 13-point cushion was long gone by intermission, and once the Hawks started rolling, Miami offered little resistance.

"We came out like we were supposed to win, with a lot of energy," Wade said. "But this is a good team. They didn't get rattled. They came back and made plays and got back in the game."

In other games:

* At Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton scored 28 points and Allen Iverson had 17 points and 12 assists in the Detroit Pistons' 114-110 win over the Indiana Pacers, who got a career-high 42 points from Danny Granger. Rodney Stuckey added a season-high 21 points for Detroit.

* At Phoenix, Grant Hill's 20-foot jump shot with 2 seconds left gave the Suns a 113-112 victory over the Orlando Magic.

* At East Rutherford, N.J., Chris Bosh scored 18 points and Toronto capitalized on Vince Carter's 0-for-13 night to beat the Nets, 101-79. Jason Kapono, with four three-pointers, and Joey Graham each had 16 points, and Jose Calderon scored 13.

Calderon made two free throws with 10:50 remaining in the third period to set an NBA record with 54 consecutive made free throws to start the season. Steve Nash set the mark of 53 last year.

* At Boston, Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Celtics to their 14th consecutive victory, 94-82, over the New Orleans Hornets.

* At Minneapolis, Tony Parker didn't have another 55-point night, so his San Antonio Spurs relied on defense for a 98-86 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his first game at Target Center since that career night on Nov. 5, Parker managed 17 points and nine assists.

* At Memphis, Rudy Gay scored 29 points and Hakim Warrick added 21, both matching their season highs, as the Grizzlies topped the Chicago Bulls, 103-96.


* Charlotte has signed Juwan Howard, 3 days after reaching an agreement with the veteran forward. The move comes as Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Sean Singletary reported to the team for physicals after being acquired Wednesday in a trade that sent Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley to Phoenix.

The Bobcats waived former Saint Joseph's forward Dwayne Jones, who had left a team in Turkey to return to the NBA, to make room on the roster for the four new players. Howard had been released by Denver after the Allen Iverson trade last month. *