Add another improbable Hawks victory to the growing list.
The Hawks’ 109-104 overtime win over the Trail Blazers Monday night was the latest example of successful late-game dramatics, many which can only be described as out of the ordinary. Paul Millsap scored with 0.1 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Trail Blazers scored the first seven points of the extra period for what was surely a commanding lead. However, the Hawks scored the final 12 points and escaped with the win.
The Hawks scored just two baskets in overtime but were 8 of 8 from the free-throw line. Millsap made four of his attempts. The Trail Blazers missed their final eight shots and had two turnovers after taking their advantage.
The Hawks (32-23) have rallied or held on in dramatic fashion in nearly one-third of their victories. They are 4-0 in overtime games this season. They were winless in all six overtime games the previous two seasons.
“That’s what we need to win in this league,” Millsap said. “On the other hand, we lost some close games like this. It’s a good thing we are on the winning end of most of them, especially overtime games, but in this league you have to be able to win all types of ways.”
And the Hawks have won in all manner of ways. They have erased 20-point deficits twice. They have erased a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes. They have scored the final eight points of a game all from the free-throw line. They have survived a defensive lapse.
“I feel we grow from those games,” Kent Bazemore said. “I’m an optimist so whenever the time is we start playing well, whatever the moment, we are ready for it. This is what the regular season is for. It’s kind of playoff basketball. The other team has its back against the wall. It’s win or go home. That’s the way you have to play. That’s the way you have to finish the game. I think it’s working in our favor. There are a lot of things we can work on to not be in those situations. But when you are in it, there is no need to be upset about it or pout about it. Just go out and get the win.”
There have been a number of heroes in the late-game dramatics. Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Millsap have stepped up in big situations. Recently the Hawks got necessary late-game defensive contributions from rookies DeAndre Bembry at the Rockets and Taurean Prince at the Trail Blazers. Nearly every player on the roster has had a hand in such wins.
“So many NBA games come down to the wire,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Lots of guys are making plays down the stretch.”
Here is a recap of some of the Hawks improbable wins this season, including six in the past two months.
Hawks 114, Bucks 110: On Dec. 9, the Hawks erased a 20-point first-half deficit for the victory. The Bucks held a one-point lead with 1:51 remaining before the Hawks went on a 7-0 run to take control of a game once thought lost.
Hawks 110, Thunder 108: On Dec. 19, Paul Millsap –as the third option – hit a 10-footer with 12 seconds left for the win. The Thunder had chances at the end as Russell Westbrook missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer and Steven Adams dunked the rebound after the final buzzer.
Hawks 109, Nuggets 108: On Dec. 23, the Hawks scored the final eight points of the game – all from the free-throw line – to erase a seven-point deficit in the final minutes. The Hawks won without Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kyle Korver.
Hawks 114, Spurs 112: Jan. 1, Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 3.3 remaining in regulation to force overtime. The Hawks got offensive rebounds from Hardaway and Paul Millsap in the extra period to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Spurs.
Hawks 108, Knicks 107: On Jan. 16, Paul Millsap had to block a Derrick Rose layup at the rim after a defensive lapse opened a clear path. The Knicks had two more chances in the final seconds by Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah missed off offensive rebounds.
Hawks 119, Bulls 114: On Jan. 25, the Hawks trailed by 11 points in the fourth quarter and 10 points with three minutes remaining. They ended the game on a 19-4 run, including 12 straight points, to steal a victory that only minutes earlier seemed improbable.
Hawks 142, Knicks 139: On Jan. 29, Paul Millsap played a career-high 61 minutes including the final 36 minutes of a four overtime victory. Three other Hawks reached career-highs in minutes played with Tim Hardaway Jr. (58), Schroder (55) and Kent Bazemore (50).
Hawks 113, Rockets 108: On Feb. 2, the Hawks overcame a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 23 of his 33 points in the final quarter. The Hawks ended the game on a 36-11 run.
Hawks 109, Trail Blazers 104: On Feb. 13, Paul Millsap forced overtime with a basket with 0.1 seconds remaining. The Trail Blazers scored the first seven points of overtime. The Hawks answered with the final 12 points of the game, including 8 of 8 from the free-throw line.