Hawks Go to OT Again to Beat Bobcats In First Game Without Horford
The Hawks (17-13) went to overtime for the third straight game, the first time the franchise has done that since 1997, and got a 118-116 victory over the Bobcats (14-17) (the Hawks 10th straight win over Charlotte). The game was the first since Al Horford tore his right pectoral and in his absence the Hawks got big production from Paul Millsap, who shouldered much of the frontcourt scoring load with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Millsap said it was less an increased effort from him to get shots without Horford, but instead finding good shots in the offense that led to his big night.
|Hawks vs. Bobcats|
|Antic’s Crazy Three|
“Not really. Not really a conscious effort [to be more aggressive with Horford out]. I was just getting good looks. I was able to penetrate, guys hit shots for us, and the key was guys coming off the bench and hitting shots for us.”
Millsap battled with his former teammate in Utah, Al Jefferson for much of the night, as Jefferson had a huge 24 point and 23 rebound performance. Both players were 10-of-18 from the field and were aggressive around the rim. Millsap got to the free throw line 14 times, converting on 12, and, when matched up with Jefferson, used his speed advantage to drive to the rim. Jefferson, conversely, used his size against the Hawks’ frontcourt in the post and on the offensive glass.
“We’re good friends,” said Millsap. “He’s a load down there, but anytime I get the opportunity to guard him I’m gonna guard him…That was the choice [for me to pick him up more]. I wanted to guard him. Try to give him a different look…keep him off balance.”
Pero Antic had a rough shooting night from the field going 1-of-7 (1-of-5) from the three-point line, but had seven assists, four rebounds, and three blocks with his three points. Those three points came on a ridiculous three-point attempt with the Hawks down three with under five seconds to play. Antic caught the ball in the corner, pump-faked, took a dribble to the side, and launched a one-footed (wrong-footed) three-pointer that caught nothing but net.
After the game, the Hawks reacted to the Antic three that sent the game to overtime.
“No [that wasn't drawn up],” said Antic. “That was Kyle [Korver]‘s system. They covered him the whole game good. They know that he’s a helluva shooter and we were going to go to him at the end, but I just let it go. I let [six] go before and I missed all of them. All of them good shots, but the difficult one [goes in].”
“That was not one of the options,” said Coach Bud. “They defended everything extremely well. Credit to them. That’s just one of those things in basketball. Sometimes you get a lucky bounce and you hit a lucky shot. Pero’s a heck of a player. He’s a heck of a shot maker. He does some unique things.”
“People don’t know, but Pero practices that shot all the time,” said Mike Scott. ”I mean, I loved it, I just couldn’t believe he did that [laughs]. When he shot it I was like, ‘No, Yesss! Yes!” I wanted that. That should be on the Top 10 or something.”
“It’s a shot that he normally takes,” said Millsap. “He shoots that shot in practice everyday. Yeah, he practices that shot. When you see it, it’s like a regular shot, you’re not like, “OH!” He just shot a one-legger, he just shot a shot.”
“He gets a lot of criticism [in pratice] for that shot too,” said Williams. “We really criticize him about that shot. I told him I apologize tonight. I won’t bother him ever again about it.”
Antic’s impact on the game was more than just his big three-pointer, as he was second on the team in assists with seven and was solid on the defensive end. Bud and Antic both spoke on how he effects the game positively even when he’s not shooting the ball effectively.
“Yeah, we say this a lot, but his basketball IQ is really high,” said Coach Bud. “He sees the court really well. He understands when to pass, he makes passes on target. He’s really a great team player, on both ends of the court. His defense is underrated, I think he helps us there also, and he’s an excellent passer.”
“I’m experienced enough to try to provide for the team,” said Antic. “To do some stuff just to be positive. I had terrible, well shot selection was okay, but I didn’t feel nothing. I don’t know for what reason, but I tried to put myself and the team and provide assists and get rebounds and play defense.”
Lou Williams iced the game in overtime with 10 points (10-for-10 from the free throw line) and three boards in the overtime period as he set a season-high with 28 points in 34 minutes.
“We did a great job of getting stops at the end. We made timely baskets. We made big shots in situations where we needed them. In overtime, we just battled them. We have luck on our side right now.”
Jeff Teague had what felt like a quiet night, but finished with 20 points, nine assists, and two steals. He defended Kemba Walker well, who finished with 16 points (3-of-6 from three), but held him to just 1-of-14 from two-point range. Teague had his best three-point shooting night of the season going 4-of-7 from three-point range including some timely threes late. Kyle Korver was quiet until the fourth quarter, when he hit a pair of threes to extend his record to 99 games.
Mike Scott was huge for the Hawks off the bench with 18 points and six rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. Scott was 6-for-11 from the floor and 3-of-7 from three-point range, with 15 points coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Scott spoke about his mindset when he gets open perimeter looks late in the game.
“Just having confidence to shoot them. I had never shot seven threes in a game before, that’s crazy. Just get my feet set. That last one I was so unbalanced, I just gotta work on my feet, but just shooting ‘em using my legs and that’s it. Letting them go.”
The Hawks win was big, getting them to a season-high four games over .500, and also giving the team some confidence after the crushing news about losing Al Horford indefinitely with the pectoral tear.
“I’m happy,” said Antic. “A win is a win. It’s a good kind of win because it’s going to lift the team up, the psychology. You know, we miss Al so much, but we’re going to try to cover it.”
“It gives us a little bit more confidence. We’re still missing Al, but for us to dig down deep and come back from 14 points, that’s real big for us.”
The Hawks will go back on the road for a game in Orlando tomorrow night, where, as Lou Williams said, “we need to get it done in four quarters.”
Tweet of the Night
Hawks win it on my Birthday! Thanks! Tell Antic I said good shot 😏 @ATLHawks
— Parker Nelson (@ParkerNelson1) December 29, 2013