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How the Hawks pulled out another improbable victory

Five observations from the Hawks’ 109-104 overtime win over the Trail Blazers.

1. Add this to the list of improbable Hawks’ wins this season.

The Hawks scored the final 12 points of the game with eight coming from the free-throw line. The only baskets came from Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore.

The Trail Blazers scored the first seven points of overtime but would not score again after leading 104-97. They missed eight straight shots and had two turnovers.

Bazemore’s cut and basket was the game-winner.

“Paul (Millsap) was attracting a lot of attention,” Bazemore said. “A lot of guys were turning their heads to see what he was doing. Something I’ve gotten away from is slashing. I slashed and he made a wrap-around pass and I finally got one to go. It was a rough outing out there for a second, I missed those two free throws, missed a point-blank layup, some defensive assignments I missed. It’s good to see something go.”

Millsap was 4 of 4, Dwight Howard was 2 of 2 and Taurean Prince was 2 of 2 from the line in overtime.

“It’s big,” Millsap said of the victory that comes after the Hawks blew a 22-point second-half lead to the Kings Friday. “It shows the heart of this team. We didn’t put our heads down when they went on a run to start overtime. We kept fighting and good things happened to us.”

2. As it turns out, 2.2 seconds is a lot of time on the clock.

Millsap scored with 0.1 seconds left in regulation on what the official game book described as a “driving, floating jump shot” from five feet.

The Hawks trailed 97-95 when Prince secured a rebound of a Pat Connaughton miss. The Hawks called timeout and ran an out-of-bounds play where Schroder was the first option.

“Try to get the ball to Dennis or Paul and let them attack the basket,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of the strategy. “Two point two seconds it’s longer than you think. Paul has been great at end of games this year. It was an important basket, it goes without saying.”

What made it more dramatic was that Millsap bobbled the pass and still have time.

“Initially, I wanted to go baseline but I fumbled the ball,” Millsap said. “It ended up being a good thing. I was able to get a good look at it and throw it up with the left hand.

“You have a tendency to rush and rush a bad shot with two seconds on the clock. I was able to get a dribble, two steps and put it up to the basket. You have to be calm and patient in those situations.”

3. The Hawks tried three players as the fourth wing with Thabo Sefolosha out for an eighth straight game. First Mike Dunleavy. Then DeAndre Bembry. Finally Prince.

Prince won the chance to play valuable minutes with his defense. He played a career-high 25 minutes, including three in overtime.

Prince finished with two points, two steals and a rebound in his three overtime minutes.

“We just tightened up the rotation,” Budenholzer said. “I just thought that Taurean had given us the most in the first half. We went with him and he ended up playing a ton in the second half.”

Prince had a steal with Damian Lillard slipped with 6.9 seconds left. He also had a steal of an inbound pass with 3.9 seconds left and was fouled before scoring the final two points from the game from the free-throw line.

“I saw the dude that was inbounding the ball looking right at my man,” Prince said. “I kind of just trailed him and as soon as I saw the ball coming I made a play on it.”

4. Tim Hardaway Jr. came up big offensively – again. He finished with a team-high 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter when the Hawks crawled back into a game they trailed by 13 points.

Hardaway has scored in double figures in a career-best 10 straight games. He is averaging 22.5 points over the past six games. He also played some big defense down the stretch with the assignment of the Blazers’ CJ McCollum.

“Just letting it fly,” said Hardaway, who had four 3-pointers. “I get that feeling, the rim is big. When the rim is getting bigger, I’m going to keep on shooting.”

5. The Hawks lost the rebound battle by a miserable margin of 66-52, including 22-7 on the offensive glass. Still, Budenholzer credited the play of Howard in the victory. The center had 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Trail Blazers played short-handed after the trade of Mason Plumlee.

Several times late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, Budenholzer pulled Howard and went with Millsap at center and Prince at power forward. The Trail Blazers did attempt the Hack-a-Dwight strategy late. Howard was 9 of 16 from the line.

“(Al-Farouq) Aminu is a tough matchup at (power forward),” Budenholzer said. “We felt like we could stay more connected with them defensively and offensively we could play a little faster. No, it didn’t have anything to do with the free throws.”

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