MIAMI • The Miami Heat were a trendy pick in the South-east Division this season with one of the top starting line-ups in the National Basketball Association finally coming together.
But the Atlanta Hawks showed on Tuesday that prognosticators may want to put the brakes on knocking off the reigning No. 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference so quickly.
Behind a first-half surge and a defence that maintained the lead throughout, the Hawks beat the Heat, who missed guard Dwyane Wade for a large portion of the second half, 98-92 at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Hawks (4-1) earned their seventh consecutive win over their divisional foes.
All-Star guard Jeff Teague led Atlanta with 26 points and nine assists. The Hawks distributed the ball well, finishing with 25 assists.
"That's the way we play," he said. "That's the way we do it. We share the ball, and it is usually the recipe for success for us."
Forward-centre Al Horford registered 17 points and 13 rebounds and forward Paul Millsap added 12 and 10.
Horford did not buy too much into the notion that Atlanta needed to prove they were still the team to beat in their division early in the season. "It's still very early," he said. "We're not too worried about it. It's a matter of us getting better each game. It's still a very long season."
The Hawks held the Heat to 44.2 per cent shooting, though that was the best a team shot against the swarming Atlanta defence this season. Miami (3-2) were worse on three-pointers, going 5-for-28.
"I thought our activity and our hands were good," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We were flying around, so we can build on that defensively."
The Hawks forced 18 turnovers.
Atlanta shot 41.1 per cent from the floor but was able to connect on seven three-pointers and scored 17 points at the free-throw line.
Miami's shooting percentage was made to appear respectable thanks to centre Hassan Whiteside, who led them with an efficient 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting. Not counting him, Miami shot 36.4 per cent.
"My team-mates are finding me, and I'm just finishing it," he said. "So whenever they find me, I just try to make the best play I can make."
He also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Wade, who went into the locker room midway through the third quarter with migraine symptoms and returned with 4min 12sec remaining, finished with 21 points.
"It just came on," the 33-year-old said. "I went to the free-throw line and then with my migraines, I get a little blurred vision, so with all the lights, that is not ideal."
For the first time this season, the All-Star missed a free throw. He had converted his first 24 attempts.
Heat guard Goran Dragic scored 19 points, and forward Chris Bosh added nine points and 14 rebounds.