Hawks end 7-game skid behind Howard, Millsap

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks needed 14 days to win a game. Dwight Howard hopes to never go through a stretch like that again.

“All we’ve been thinking about since the last game was how we can come in and get this game,” he said. “I thought our effort and our energy were in the right place, and we got a win.”

Howard had 23 points and 17 rebounds, Paul Millsap added 21 points and the Hawks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 103-95 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Dennis Schroder had 17 points for the Hawks. They are 2-10 since starting the season 9-2.

Tyler Johnson scored a career-high 27 points and Goran Dragic added 21 for the Heat. Miami, which used just eight players because of injuries, has lost three straight.

It wasn’t an easy night for Atlanta’s offense as the Hawks settled too often for jumpers and struggled to make crisp, timely passes.

Coach Mike Budenholzer was clearly frustrated and called a timeout with a 10-point lead late in the third. The next three possessions resulted in a backcourt violation and an airball 3 by Malcolm Delaney and Howard’s offensive foul, but Atlanta led by 15 to begin the fourth.

The Heat pulled within three on two free throws by Dragic with 7:05 remaining before Thabo Sefolosha’s putback dunk two possessions later gave the Hawks some momentum, but not enough to put the game away.

Miami made it a six-point game with 2:40 remaining when Sefolosha’s fast-break dunk put the Hawks up 10 at the 1:53 mark.

“I think at the root of this has been our practice schedule,” Atlanta guard Kyle Korver said. “We had a great training camp, a great preseason and we came out of the gates 9-2. But the way our schedule was, we had so many back-to-backs and literally didn’t have a practice for three weeks. Practice matters. We’re glad we’re done with that part of the schedule.”

Howard’s dunk midway through the second put the Hawks up 15, but the Heat trimmed the lead to seven at halftime.

Miami couldn’t handle the inside matchups against Howard and Millsap and was outscored 58-26 in the paint.

“We’re working with what we have right now,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside said. “Guys are giving their all right now. I’m proud of our guys. They’re doing their best.”

BE REASONABLE

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t pleased when referee CJ Washington called Johnson for a foul against the 6-foot-11 Howard in the first quarter. Spoelstra couldn’t believe Johnson, who’s 7 inches shorter, affected the shot. “He can’t even jump that high!” Spoelstra said. Washington smiled, but Spoelstra held firm. “I’m dead serious!”

TIP-INS

Heat: Johnson scored 14 points in the first half. … Dragic played 34 minutes despite having a stinger in his shoulder from Tuesday’s home loss to New York. … Whiteside had 12 rebounds and has led the team on the boards in all 22 games. … Wayne Ellington scored 19 points. … Josh McRoberts had two points, two rebounds and five turnovers in 30 minutes.

Hawks: G Kent Bazemore was sidelined with a sore right knee. He’s expected to miss at least one more game. An MRI Wednesday morning showed no structural damage. … Tim Hardaway Jr., who replaced Bazemore in the starting lineup, limped off the floor and into the locker room with a leg injury late in the fourth. … Howard and Millsap combined for 26 of Atlanta’s 53 points and for 12 of its 25 rebounds in the first half.

UP NEXT

Heat: Visit Cleveland on Friday night and Chicago on Saturday night.

Hawks: Visit Milwaukee on Friday night and they’re off until next Tuesday at home against Orlando.

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