Al Horford scored the go-ahead bucket and got away with the game-winning no-call foul as the Atlanta Hawks tip-toed by the Toronto Raptors 93-92 on Wednesday.
Toronto forward DeMar DeRozan soared above a crowd of outstretched hands to corral an offensive rebound with two seconds remaining and tried to go back up for the winning layup but couldn’t get off a clean attempt as Horford created contact with DeRozan, altered the shot, and forced a turnover to seal Atlanta’s victory.
Horford led the Hawks with a team-high 22 points and added 10 boards to go along with six assists and three blocks in 44 minutes of action, averaging just one minute of rest per quarter. Two of his blocks, against Kyle Lowry and DeRozan, came in the final 15 seconds of the game. Josh Smith also added a double-double like Big Al with 20 points and 11 rebounds while posting three of a kind across the board for assists, blocks and steals. Kyle Korver poured in 17 points, 15 from behind the arc, going 5-of-9 from downtown. He also chipped in with six rebounds, three assists and two steals while shooting 60 percent (6-of-10) overall.
Toronto had four players score in double-figures and three who recorded double-digit rebounds. DeRozan led the Raptors with 23 points on 50 percent (8-of-16) shooting, while backup point guard John Lucas added the same shooting marks for a season-high 19 points. Alan Anderson had 15 points and Kyle Lowry chipped in with a double-double performance of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Amir Johnson grabbed a game-high 14 boards and center Aaron Gray had 11 rebounds to go with eight points.
The Hawks entered the fourth quarter leading by six points but found themselves trailing 92-89 after Alan Anderson’s 3-pointer gave the Raptors the lead with 1:08 remaining. Luckily for the Atlanta, the anchor of the team Al Horford steadied the ship and scored the final four points of the game to lift the Hawks to a one-point victory.
Jeff Teague missed a layup with 58 seconds left but Horford pulled down the offensive rebound and drew a foul to earn a trip to the charity-stripe. He sank both free-throw attempts to bring the Hawks within one point of tying the score.
On Toronto’s ensuing possession, good Atlanta defensed forced a bad shot from backup point guard John Lucas which allowed Korver to control the carom, setting up a Hawks timeout with 27.8 seconds remaining.
Atlanta then executed a beautifully drawn up played by coach Larry Drew which resulted in a wide open layup for Horford to put the Hawks up 93-92.
Korver took up all the focus in the play as he inbounded the ball, ran above a double screen set up by Smith and Horford across the foul-line, curled down to the low right block, then cut back up above a Horford down pick, causing Gray to cheat out on the double which allowed Horford to slip the screen and be left wide open under the hoop for the easiest possible game-clinching basket.