ATLANTA — The goal coming out of the All-Star break for the Miami Heat was simple and to the point.
“The big picture for us, first,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday morning, “is playing better on the road.”
The search for road revival continues.
Unable to stop the offensive whirlwind that is Trae Young, the Heat returned to action with a 129-124 loss Thursday night to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena.
Against the one-man torrent that is Young, the Heat, even with a strong response from their own All-Stars, fell to 13-17 on the road.
Young led the Hawks with 50 points. It was his 10th game of 40 or more this season, second in the NBA only to James Harden’s 19.
Center Bam Adebayo filled the Heat side of the ledger, with 28 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists, with Jimmy Butler adding 17 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Twice the Heat pushed to 11-point leads, including late in the third period, but when Young thoroughly crossed over Andre Iguodala to clear space for a 3-pointer, it was tied 97-97 with 11:09 left.
By the time Young was up to 44 points, the Hawks were back in front midway through the final period.
Later, a De’Andre Hunter 3-pointer tied it 124-124, with a Goran Dragic turnover on the next Heat possession then leading to a Cam Reddish transition layup and 126-124 Hawks lead with 31.4 seconds left.
Off a timeout, Butler was off with a jumper, effectively ending it.
In the wake of the ankle injury that has Meyers Leonard out and the roster revamp at the trade deadline two weeks ago, the Heat moved to their fourth starting lineup in the past six games.
This time it was Jae Crowder starting in place of Derrick Jones Jr., who had started in place of Kelly Olynyk, who had started in place of Leonard.
Continuity was limited after Crowder was called for two early fouls and then when Jones suffered a bruised left shin, later to return midway through the third period.
Ultimately, that had Spoelstra 10 deep within the game’s first 10 minutes, foul trouble convoluting any Heat attempt for rotation cohesion.
If there was any doubt about Adebayo’s credentials as the skills competition winner during All-Star Weekend, he offered an emphatic statement in the first half, alone, which he closed with eight points, nine rebounds and six assists, as well as two steals.
And on the defensive end, Adebayo took on all switches, including defending Young on a 28-foot 3-point attempt that the Hawks guard drained, later more successfully taking on similar challenges against the Hawks guard.
Fresh off his All-Star Game appearance, Young shot a pedestrian 3 of 9 in the first half, but nonetheless closed the half with 19 points, shooting 10 of 10 from the line over the opening 24 minutes.
Young then opened his scoring in the second half with a four-point play, and was up to 30 points by the end of the third period.
He became the sixth player in NBA history with at least 10 or more 40-point games in his second season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Nate Archibald, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
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