First, a 22-point lead was lost. And then, the game.
The Hawks failed to hold off the Kings’ dramatic comeback in a 108-107 loss Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings’ Darren Collison scored on a layup high off the glass with 3.5 seconds left for the winning margin. Tim Hardaway Jr. was turned away at the buzzer and the Hawks had failed.
The Hawks complained about a non-fould call on the play with their frustrations clearly boiling over.
“It went both ways,” Paul Millsap said about the final play. “They complained. We complained. They complained. We complained. It went back and forth. At the end of day, you’ve got to fight through it. You have to play through whatever is going on out there. It just so happened they were on the winning side of it.”
Dennis Schroder hit two free throws with 1:01 left and a jumper with 34.9 seconds left between two free throws from DeMarcus Cousins for a 105-104 lead. Cousins drew a sixth foul on Dwight Howard with the foul at the 44.7 second mark. Cousins scored on a put-back with 20.8 seconds left for a 106-105 lead. Millsap answered for the Hawks with a drive and pull-up and a 107-106 advantage with 7.9 seconds left.
That set up Collison’s game-winning drive.
Cousins hit a 3-pointer with 4:36 remaining to tie the game at 93-93 at completely erase the once monumental deficit. It capped a 44-22 run between the third and fourth quarters. Kent Bazemore scored and had a key rebound and Hardaway had a three-point play and a 3-pointer to put the Hawks up by seven, 101-94.
However, the Kings got back-to-back 3-pointers from Anthony Tolliver and Cousins and a put-back from Matt Barnes for a 102-101 lead with 1:14 remaining, their first lead of the game.
The Hawks (31-23) were led by Hardaway with a game-high 28 points. Millsap added 25 points and Schroder finished with 20 points.
The Kings (22-32) were led by Cousins, Collison and Ben McLemore all with 22 points.
The Hawks jumped out early and lead 11-4 after the Kings made just one of their first nine shots and had four turnovers. The Hawks led by as many as 14 points in the opening quarter. They pushed their lead to 19 late in the second quarter and took a 59-43 advantage into halftime. Hardaway had 18 points, Millsap had 14 points and Howard had 10 rebounds in the first half.
The Hawks pushed their lead to 22 points, 71-49, in the third quarter. The Kings then went on a 23-10 run to get as close as nine points. The Hawks took a 10-point advantage, 84-74, into the fourth quarter.
“Tough loss,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Credit Sacramento. They made calls down the stretch. I think we let up midway through the third quarter. They got it down to 10 going into the fourth quarter and at that point it’s a ball game. A lot of frustration from both teams. It’s hard to understand some times what’s going on out on the court. Credit to Sacramento. They made a lot of plays.”