ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks came into Friday night’s game against the Wizards third in the Eastern Conference at 11-11, and they were looking for something to give them a spark. They have been hovering around .500 all season, and it seemed as if they were stuck in the mud.
Well, Al Horford made a play that just might spark a run by the Hawks.
They were facing the Wizards, and Washington had been playing better as of late. John Wall has looked like an elite point guard, and the Hawks had a tall task on their hands. The game started out ugly, as both teams were shooting 29% at one point early, and it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. The Hawks shot 39% from the field after 12, and the Wizards were at 29%. The Hawks held a 21-19 lead after one behind 7 points and 5 rebounds from Al Horford.
In the second, the Hawks finally moved the ball, and it was looking like Budenholzer’s offense. They had 8 assists on 11 made baskets, and shot 57.9% from the floor. Al Horford led all scorers with 17 points heading into the half. Jeff Teague dared John Wall to shoot jumpers all night, and it paid off. Wall was just 1 of 3 in the 2nd, and he looked like he was getting a root canal all game long. The Hawks were up 48-46 heading into the break.
The Hawks would see their lead grow in the third quarter, and they controlled the game from that point on. They kept hovering around a 10 point lead. Defensively, the Hawks held Washington to just 15 points in the quarter, and Al Horford had 22 points through three quarters. The Hawks would lead 71-61 heading into the final period. Overall, it was an ugly game.
For the beginning of the final period, it was much of the same. Atlanta’s offense was stagnant, but Washington’s wasn’t better. As we approached the final minutes, John Wall finally woke up, and he sparked a 16-2 run, and the Wizards would have the lead. The Hawks shot an abysmal 20% from the field in the 4th, but they allowed the Wizards to shoot 50%. The game was tied after Al Horford hit two clutch free throws with 5.5 seconds to go, and the Wizards had a chance to win. John Wall got the ball and took a mid-range shot, but missed. The game was 86-86, and we were headed for overtime.
In overtime, the game was tight. Both teams traded baskets, and it was tied for the majority of the extra period. Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Jeff Teague would be the only Hawks to score in overtime. Korver hit a three late, and they would take a late lead. The Wizards hit two timely baskets to tie it at 99, and the Hawks had a chance to win the game with a little over a second to go. Pero Antic inbounded the ball by floating one up to Al Horford, and Philips Arena would explode:
Horford hit the shot to win the game, and the Hawks moved to 12-11, and Atlanta was buzzing. After the game, the locker room was in high spirits, and you could tell that this win could be the one that sparks the Hawks, and they could get some separation. Horford finished with 34 points and 15 rebounds, and this was his second career 30 and 15 game. Millsap finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, Teague added 12 points and 7 assists, and Kyle Korver had 16 for the Hawks. He also extended his streak to 92 games.
The Hawks won 101-99, they are back in action in Philips Arena on Monday against the Lakers, but they are on the road against the Knicks Saturday.
Mike Budenholzer - “It was good for our group to win a close game. We’ve lost a couple early, it seems like, and I’m sure we’ve won one or two, but it was great to get.”
Paul Millsap - “Through it all we stayed with it and found a way to win. It was a great shot by Al at the end. He did a good job for us tonight.”
“We practice that (play), we practice end of game plays. Hats off to the coaching staff for putting plays like that at the end of the game.”
Al Horford - “We work on that in practice. That’s a play we’ve worked on and we have three options. It was going to be me, Paul or Kyle, and they overplayed both of those guys. Pero saw me and he gave me a great pass.”
If Al Horford isn’t an all-star this season, that would be a huge travesty.