The Miami Heat ended a three-game losing streak by beating the slumping Atlanta Hawks 92-75 on Monday. The Heat never looked back after racing into a 30-14 lead at the end of the first quarter with shooting guard Dwyane Wade registering 28 points and Michael Beasley contributing 22 and eight rebounds.
"We've shown an ability to bounce back and have some resiliency," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "It was a strong, important win." The Hawks fell to their fourth consecutive defeat and recorded a season-low scoring total with reserve Jamal Crawford (23 points) one of just two players reaching double figures. "If we would've put a little more effort in, it would have been a different story," Atlanta point guard Mike Bibby said.
It was the second meeting this season between two teams who faced off in a seven-game first-round play-off series won by the Hawks last year. "I guess it could be a little bit of a rivalry," said the Miami forward Udonis Haslem. "We just didn't come out ready to play," said the Atlanta coach Mike Woodson. "I have to take responsibility for that. It's unacceptable how we played." Russell Westbrook scored 29 points and Kevin Durant added 25 as Oklahoma City Thunder clinched a 98-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Derrick Rose scored 19 points and Joakim Noah had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls. Rose and Durant - the NBA's fourth top scorers - have been named the Eastern and Western Conference players of the week, respectively, for games played December 28-January 3. "I'm not going into every game saying, 'I've got to score 30 for us to win,'" said Durant "I just go out there and play within the offence. That's what everybody's doing. We pass the ball to each other. That is what great teams do."
The victory was Oklahoma City's sixth in seven games and sees them return to winning ways after Milwaukee Bucks had ended their five-game winning streak on Saturday. Devin Brown scored a career-best 30 points as the New Orleans Hornets beat the Utah Jazz 91-87. The game was decided when Chris Paul stole the ball to convert with 27 seconds left to halt a late the Jazz rally and secure the Hornets' first in Utah in almost four years.
"It's big for us, especially with how terrible we have played on the road this year," said Paul, who had 12 points, nine assists and three steals. "Hopefully this gives us the confidence and gives us the ability to realise that we are a good team and that we can win on the road. "I think we showed a lot of grit and poise and we fought hard to win this game," Elsewhere, Martell Webster scored a season's best 25 points, but Portland Trailblazers still went down to a 105-95 defeat by Los Angeles Clippers.
Chris Kaman scored 20 points for the winers and Eric Gordon added 19. "We did a nice job of getting the ball into Kaman and letting him anchor us," the Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We had a slow start in the first half and took care of the ball better in the second half," Kaman said. "We had a good team game overall, were able to get stops and execute." * With Agencies