- Mark Brown Special to the AJC
PHOENIX – Just on the verge of victory, the Hawks blew an eight-point lead in the final minute and a half and dropped a 104-103 decision to the Suns Tuesday night.
The Hawks opened a five-game western swing with a meltdown in the final seconds. The game winner came when Devon Booker was fouled attempting to shoot a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining. He calmly hit three in a row and then sank two more in the final six seconds.
The game spoiled a great effort from Kent Bazemore, who popped in 20 points. Bazemore was 6-for-6 from the floor and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in scoring 15 points through three quarters.
When Marco Belinelli scored inside and Taurean Prince hit a pair of free throws, the Hawks gained an 80-73 advantage after three quarters.
Down the stretch, Dennis Schroder provided important production. A pair of free throws and a three within eight seconds midway through the final period helped put the Hawks into a 97-85 lead with just under five minutes remaining.
Ersan Ilyasova led the Hawks with 21 points and Schroder added 20 points.
For most of the season, the lack of a power game in the paint has hurt the Hawks, and that was evident again at the start of the game. In the first half alone, the Hawks could generate only nine points in the perimeter of the paint, and eventually fell behind at the intermission buzzer.
Meanwhile, the Suns displayed a balanced game, and overcame a 14-point deficient early in the second quarter to forge a slight halftime lead.
Early in the second period, Phoenix guard Devin Booker scored nine straight points and his surge provided the catalyst for Phoenix. Three came on a jumper from beyond the arc and three were short jumpers from the baselines.
When Phoenix forward T. J. Warren popped in a basket from the paint with 11 seconds remaining in the first half, the Suns gained their first lead of the game. That created a 49-48 intermission advantage.