You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Hardaway Jr. is kicking down opportunity’s door


Tim Hardaway Jr. isn’t just knocking at opportunity’s door.

He’s about to kick it in.

The Hawks shooting guard was the catalyst for yet another dramatic victory with a career-high 33 points in a 113-108 victory over the Rockets on Thursday night. The Hawks erased a 20-point deficit in the final 8:27 as Hardaway scored 23 fourth-quarter points. He had 20 of the Hawks’ points in their 36-11 run to end the game.

The Hawks have decisions to make regarding Hardaway — now and in the future. Such stellar performances, it can be argued, has earned Hardaway a spot in the starting lineup. Perhaps more important, he will be a restricted free agent this summer. His play has warranted a significant salary. There will be several interested teams bidding against the Hawks’ right to match any offer.

Decisions. Decisions.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer recently said he prefers the offensive spark that Hardaway provides off the bench, and the immediate plan is to keep him with the reserves. Hardaway has started the past three games with Thabo Sefolosha out with left groin injury. He has started nine games this season and averaged 17.1 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 33.8 minutes. In his 39 games off the bench, he has averaged 11.3 points, 1.7 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 21.8 minutes.

In the remarkable 36-11 run, the Hawks were 15-of-20 from the field. Hardaway was 8-of-10. The Rockets were a combined 4-of-17. Before Hardaway, the most-recent time a Hawks player scored 20 or more points in a quarter was when Joe Johnson scored 21 against the Nets on Nov. 14, 2008.

Hardaway’s previous career high was 29 points — or six more than he scored in the fourth quarter Thursday.

“He got a couple of drives and then saw a couple of 3’s go in,” Budenholzer said. “Once he has both going, he can be a tough cover because we always talk about how good he is attacking the basket and getting to the rim and he got an and-one. He just kind of had everything going. It was one of those special quarters for a young player who is really emerging and arising.”

In addition to Budenholzer, teammates praised Hardaway after the victory. He was mobbed on the court. He was swept off to do interviews with TNT and ESPN. The lauds continued in the locker room.

Hardaway deflected much of the attention. Following several questions about his performance, he credited the victory to the fourth-quarter defensive effort of rookie DeAndre Bembry on Rockets star James Harden.

“Tim as making crazy shots,” said Dwight Howard, who had 24 points and 23 rebounds in the game. “We kept trying to find plays to get him attacking the basket. That’s what I kept telling him, ‘Tim, attack, attack, attack.’ It opened up everything was he started doing that.”

Budenholzer has used Hardaway down the stretch in big victories. He played a career-high 58 minutes in the four overtime win over the Knicks on Sunday. He played 17 of the 24 second-half minutes against the Rockets, including the final 9:45.

The Hawks cut the one-time 20-point deficit to seven points, 106-99, with 4:03 remaining. Hardaway scored the next 12 points for the Hawks with a two layups, a 3-pointer, three free throws and a drive down the middle for an emphatic dunk. Bembry scored the final Hawks points on a dunk with 5.4 seconds left.

The Hawks have had some dramatic victories to go with some poor losses this season. The win over the Rockets came just one night after a 23-point loss at the Heat. It’s not the first time the Hawks overcame a 20-point deficit to win this season. They did so against the Bucks in December. They also erased a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes against the Bulls last week.

Hardaway is playing an increased role since the trade of Kyle Korver. The more he plays, the more he has set about knocking down that door.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Hawks

How the Hawks failed in a four-minute stretch to lose again
How the Hawks failed in a four-minute stretch to lose again

Five observations from the Hawks’ 104-100 loss to the Wizards Wednesday. 1. The Hawks led 76-72 with 8:56 to play on Kris Humphries’ dunk. They would not score a field goal for the next 4:41 when Thabo Sefolosha hit a 3-pointer. During that time, the four-point lead turned into a 10-point deficit. The Hawks were 0 of 4 from the field with...
Inside the box score: Wizards 104, Hawks 100
Inside the box score: Wizards 104, Hawks 100

Inside the box score and more of the Hawks’ 104-100 loss to the Wizards Wednesday: Key players * Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with a game-high 29 points for the Hawks. * Bradley Beal had 28 points, including 15 in the first half, for the Wizards. * John Wall had 22 points, all in the second half, for the Wizards. Key stat The Wizards held a 55-44...
Late collapse costs Hawks in loss to Wizards
Late collapse costs Hawks in loss to Wizards

The Hawks were right there. And then they fell apart. A fourth-quarter collapse led to the Hawks’ fifth straight defeat with a 104-100 loss to the Wizards Wednesday at Verizon Center in a nationally televised game. The Wizards went on a 24-8 run in the final quarter, including a stint of 4:41 seconds when the Hawks went without a field goal and...
There will be a very special reunion for Delaney brothers
There will be a very special reunion for Delaney brothers

Vincent Delaney couldn’t sleep last night. There was too much excitement before the first chance to see his brother Malcolm play an NBA game in person. The Hawks visited Washington, D.C. in November. However Vincent was still recovering from an act of violence that has left him paralyzed. He couldn’t make the short trip from his hometown...
Game Thread: Hawks at Wizards
Game Thread: Hawks at Wizards

Atlanta Hawks’ Dwight Howard during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Monday, Nov.
More Stories