That name will resound in the hearts of Cleveland Cavs fans for some time, as the Hawks point guard utterly took over the proceedings in Atlanta’s 127-127, double-overtime victory on Thursday night. Teague scored 11 of his 34 points in the two overtime periods, but in addition to that (and a game-high 14 assists), he knocked down easily the two biggest shots of the evening.
At the end of the first overtime period, Mike Budenholzer sketched what amounted to a perfect play for Teague, as the Hawks were trailing by 3 with under 10 seconds to play. Teague took it from there, though, and buried a deep 3-pointer to tie the game, and send the game to (another) extra frame. The point guard wasn’t done, however, as he was called on again in the 2nd OT, sinking the game-winner with a 20-footer at the buzzer that was guided by some help from the rim. It was a fitting end to the Jeff Teague show, and what a fantastic ending it was.
Despite the incredible display of hoops on this night (especially in the overtime periods), the game was marred for Hawks fans, and that was because of a high-profile injury to the team’s best player. Al Horford left the game while holding his right shoulder during the overtime period, and for anyone who remembers his severe left pectoral injury, it brought back painful memories. We don’t know much about Horford’s prognosis yet, but he went immediately to the locker room (missing the rest of the game, followed by an announcement as such from Hawks PR) after what appeared to be a non-contact injury, and as of now, the entire fan base collectively holds its breath.
Besides the Horford injury and Teague’s greatness, it was an impressive display of hoops on both sides. Kyle Korver kept the Hawks afloat with a barrage of two three-pointers (including a 4-point play) in the second overtime, and that displayed what was incredible balance for Atlanta. Teague’s 34 points (on a career-best 14 made field goals) and 14 assists led the way, but Al Horford put up 25 points and 8 rebounds before his exit, while Paul Millsap also cracked the 20-point plateau with 20 points and 11 rebounds for yet another double-double.
Al Horford wasn’t the only Hawk that went down with injury, either, as DeMarre Carroll left the game early and didn’t return. DeMarre was diagnosed with a sprained right thumb with 8:17 to go in the fourth quarter, and while he was immediately pronounced as “doubtful”, he never reappeared. Fortunately, “sprained” is usually a good word, and even if he is day-to-day, I’d expect that we see Carroll back sooner rather than later.
At the 2:50 mark of the 3rd quarter, Kyle Korver (once again) extended his 3-point streak to 98 straight games with another triple. Kyle was just getting started, as his back-to-back threes (including the aforementioned 4-point play) in double-OT were huge, and Korver finished with 20 points on 7-15 shooting, including 4-12 from beyond the arc. He was the 4th member of the offense to score 20+ points, and Korver was also the catalyst for the game-tying shot in the 1st overtime, as the entire defense seemingly followed him, allowing Teague to come free for the big triple.
The Hawks were in the precarious position that they were in due in large part to Kyrie Irving. As mentioned in our preview, Irving had the worst game of his career in Philips Arena just a few weeks ago (going scoreless), but he absolutely exploded here. Kyrie finished with a staggering 40 points and 9 assists (plus 4 steals) in the game, dueling with Jeff Teague throughout, but fortunately for Atlanta fans, Teague got the last laugh.
Thanks to the magnitude and excitement level of this type of victory, the importance of Al Horford’s injury exit have seemingly been downplayed. It’s certainly no knock on the win to discuss Horford’s impact, and with that, it does cast a small shadow on what is to come. If Al suffered anything resembling his dreaded torn pectoral injury from nearly 2 years ago, it would be a disastrous result that would largely affect the good promise that this season has shown. However, we can’t assume the worst just yet, and until the results arrive, Hawks fans can bask in the glow of an amazing victory.