ATLANTA — The Miami Heat seemed to be coming unglued. Playing against a bunch of backups, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was ejected for slamming the ball off a friend’s back and the Big Three were on the verge of blowing a 20-point lead in a game they needed to lock up a better playoff spot.
Thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by James Jones, Miami was able to hold on Monday night.
LeBron James scored 34 points and the Heat wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 98-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks, who nearly rallied from that big deficit while going with little-used bench players against three of the NBA’s best.
Wallace: LeBron Brings Good News
“We found a way to grind it out and win the game, and that’s what’s most important,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Miami played its starters all the way, looking to clinch the second spot behind Chicago in the East. Shortly after beating the Hawks, the Heat got the news they wanted: third-place Boston lost at Washington in overtime.
Sitting in the visiting locker room, their feet in buckets of ice, the Heat kept up with the Celtics game on their cell phones.