For much of the second half, it looked like the Atlanta Hawks were headed for sure defeat in their first game without Al Horford, but fortunately, that feeling evaporated quickly as the team forced overtime, and once they got there, Atlanta held off a late push to grab a 118-116 overtime win.
Pero Antic played the “hero” card on Saturday night, as the big man knocked down a game-tying 3 with 3 seconds remaining in regulation. It certainly wasn’t how Mike Budenholzer drew it up, but Antic’s off-balance 25-footer found the net, and the shot forced OT. It was amazing for a few different reasons, but the first of which was just how bad Pero had been in the shooting department. The game-tying effort was his only made field goal of the night in 7 attempts, but he did add 7 assists in the game, and it was one huge conversion.
On the other side, Antic’s three completed a massive, 14-point comeback in the final 16 minutes, and the Hawks excelled on both ends during the spurt. After a disastrous 3-point shooting night to that point, the team rallied to finish at 41% for the night (16 for 39), and it was an all-around effort.
Paul Millsap led the team in both scoring (33 points) and rebounding (13 boards) in the game, and he was the unquestioned star among a good selection of performances. In support, Lou Williams made 9 consecutive free throws down the stretch to finish with a season-high 28 points in just 34 minutes, and he was huge on both ends. Jeff Teague also continued his stellar recent play with a 20-point, 9-assist showing, and he was also key in holding Kemba Walker to just 4-for-20 shooting on the day.
The aforementioned Wiliams had some serious help off the bench from Mike Scott, and it was a perfect example of someone stepping up in Horford’s stead. Scott scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in just 21 minutes, and that scoring burst kept the Hawks alive during some “down” times in the game on that end of the floor.
Lastly, Kyle Korver kept things rolling on the streak front despite a below-average game. Korver finished just 3-11 from the field and 2-6 from three, but his triple at the 10:51 mark of the 4th quarter (he waited a while!) gave him 99 straight games with a 3, and the streak continues.
Playing 3 straight overtime games almost never happens in the NBA (it was the first time since 1997 for the Hawks), but grabbing back-to-back wins in this fashion is something to behold. This certainly isn’t the same team without Al Horford, but they managed to steal a victory in “heist” fashion, and that’s the mark of a good team. Stay tuned for a quick turnaround, as the Hawks take on the Orlando Magic on the road at 6:00 pm on Sunday.