Horford Dominates as Hawks Survive In OT Over Wizards

Friday, December 13, 2013
By Robby Kalland

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks held a 15-point lead with eight minutes to play in the game, and appeared well on their way to an easy victory over the Wizards before Washington went on a 19-2 run to take a two-point lead at 86-84 with 1:40 to play. Neither team was able to record a field goal in that final 1:40 of the game, but Al Horford made both of his free throws (his 29th and 30th points of the game) with 5.5 seconds left to send it the game to overtime.

Hawks vs. Wizards
Photo Gallery
Horford’s Winner
Game Recap

The teams went back-and-forth in the overtime period, and after a Trevor Booker (24 points and 12 rebounds) reverse lay-up tied the game with 1.8 seconds left, the game looked destined to head to a second overtime. The Hawks came out with a big lineup of Kyle KorverElton BrandPaul MillsapPero Antic and Horford for their final play, a sideline inbound play.

Antic was inbounding the ball and threw a lob to Horford on the far side of the basket, who caught the ball, turned, and nailed the 11-footer to give the Hawks the 101-99 victory.

“We work on that in practice,” Horford said. “That’s a play that we’ve worked on. We have three options. It was going to be me, Paul, or Kyle. I think they over-played both of those guys and Pero saw me and he gave me a great pass. It was just supposed to be a lob for a dunk, but Booker did a good job pushing me away, so as soon as I caught it, I just shot it. Since we’ve worked on it before, I was comfortable taking that shot.”

“Just like always, we have multiple options and trying to get Al around the basket was one of them,” Coach Budenholzer said. “It’s always a difficult job, the job of the passer, and I think Pero Antic deserves a lot of credit for making a good pass. It’s just one of those things where it happened to work out, and obviously I’m happy for Al.”

“That’s why Pero’s in the game,” Millsap said. “That’s why he’s the one making that pass. You can’t have a conscience making that pass, and he’s the perfect guy for that…We practice that play…Hats off to our coaching staff for putting in plays like that at the end of the game.”

Horford finished the game with 34 points (15-of-23 shooting), which tied his career-high, and 15 rebounds, his second 30 points-15 rebound game of his career. Al, who was not in the top-15 in fan-voting for the Eastern Conference front-court, put on quite the display against the Wizards and really carried the Hawks offense, which was inefficient aside from Horford.

“I was playing with good energy. My teammates were setting me up for easy baskets. Like, all night I was just getting layups around the rim and they were giving me good passes, and I was just sticking with the game-plan.”

The Hawks allowed the 15-point lead to slip away in the fourth as John Wall got his game going with 11 of his 13 points coming in the final quarter. The Hawks did well to contain Wall in the first three quarters, but he got loose in the final frame, getting out on the break and got in a rhythm with his shot.

“Wall got away from us a little bit in transition,” Bud said. “Wall got aggressive in some pick-and-rolls. Wall hit a three-pointer. It seemed like John Wall really picked his game up. Sometimes it was just him making some really good plays. There were a couple of defensive breakdowns. Offensively I thought we got stagnant. I didn’t think the ball moved and we didn’t execute, and they made a heck of a run at us.”

“Long enough, eventually you’re going to score,” Jeff Teague said. “We played [Wall] the same the whole game, and he’s a good player and makes good plays. He made a couple good shots for them, and that’s what he’s supposed to do. ”

“We gave them life,” Horford said. “They’re a resilient team. They just kept fighting and pushing through. We didn’t freak out, we just needed to make plays to get back in the game. We sent it to overtime and then once we did that, our focus was to take it home and not extend it to another overtime.”

Millsap also had a solid game with 16 points and 11 rebounds, although it took him 17 shots to get there. The Hawks as a team struggled shooting the ball. Everyone other than Horford combined to shoot 23-of-66 (34.8%). Despite the shooting woes, the Hawks still were moving the ball well and had 27 assists on 38 made baskets.

The Hawks defense held the Wizards to 42% shooting on the night, and locked down on the Wizards’ perimeter shooters, keeping them to just 4-of-14 (28.6%) from three-point range after letting Washington shoot 50% from three in their first meeting. They were able to win despite allowing 18 offensive rebounds, 20 second chance points and 100 shots by the Wizards (11 more than the Hawks). The defense forced 18 turnovers that led to 20 Hawks points, including 10 steals (3 by Lou Williams).

Korver also extended his three-point streak to 92 games, going 4-of-8 from three for 16 points with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Atlanta improves to 12-11 with the win, and the Wizards fall to 9-12. The Hawks will travel to New York tonight to face the Knicks on Saturday night before returning home to face the Lakers on Monday.

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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