They don’t come any more dramatic than this one.
The Hawks erased a 27-point deficit to the Celtics, mostly on the strength of Kyle Korver’s 3-point shooting, en route to a 123-111 double overtime victory Friday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks scored the first 10 points of double overtime. Josh Smith and Al Horford scored the first eight points and Devin Harris hit a driving layup to give the Hawks an insurmountable lead of their own.
Korver hit six fourth-quarter 3-pointers as the Hawks also had to erase a 10-point deficit with 4:44 remaining after they took a lead early in the final period. He hit two straight 3-pointers and Horford hit a pair of free throws with one minute remaining to tie the game at 98-98.
After a Kevin Garnett miss, the Hawks lost the ball out of bounds with 29.2 seconds remaining. The Celtics held for a final shot but Rajon Rondo missed. After a mad scramble for a loose ball, Korver and Rondo tied up for a jump ball with 5.9 seconds remaining. Horford controlled the jump and the Hawks called a timeout with 3.7 seconds left to draw up a final play but couldn’t convert to force the first extra five minutes.
Paul Pierce missed a last second shot, blocked by Smith, to end the first overtime tied at 107-107.
“I’m trying to think, as a coach and as a player, this is probably one of the most amazing comebacks I’ve been associated with,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said.
Korver finished with a season-high 27 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers. He also set the franchise record with eight 3’s in a half.
“When the ones that don’t feel good go in, it’s nice,” Korver said. “It was just a good shooting night. … It’s one of those things that when you make some shots you get better screens and you get better passes. They guys did a good job of helping me get open. I don’t create shots on my own. I work off of everybody and just try to play good team basketball.”
Jeff Teague added 23 points before fouling out in overtime. Horford had a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds and Smith had one with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Harris, who started the second half as the Hawks elected to go smaller and faster, finished with 14 points.
“Honestly, I have to say 10 (point deficit) with four mintues to go,” Horford said when asked what was more difficult to overcome, the 27- or 10-point deficit. “You kind of start wondering what’s going to happen. Then Kyle happened. He comes in and takes over and makes 3s. It was just great. I told the guys it was going to be a different second half of the season for us. We are going to be better, more competitive. This is a perfect example.”
The Hawks (25-18) won their third straight and avenged an early-season loss to the Celtics, a game they held a 15-point halftime lead.
“Nobody on this team is built to give up,” Teague said. “It’s a rivalry game. We are going to keep playing and playing. If we could get the lead to 15 we could make a game of it. That’s all we kept saying. We got rolling and it was the snowball effect.”
Garnett led the Celtics with 24 points, 16 in the fourth quarter and first overtime before fouling out in the second.
The Celtics (20-23) lost their sixth straight game.
The Hawks stormed out of the locker room after the intermission, trailing by 19 points. They completely erased their deficit with a 21-2 run to start the third quarter.
“My halftime talk was very straight and to the point,” Drew said. “I told the guys at halftime I wasn’t going to come in there and rant and rave. I wasn’t going to throw out numbers from the stat sheet because I thought it was more than that. … I wanted by guys to have fun. I wanted my guys to be smiling, chest-bumping. I wanted my guys to be high-fiving. That’s what I told them at halftime. I didn’t know if we could come back and win this game but I knew that we have a competitive nature about us and we need to go out there and show it.”
The Hawks took their first lead, 77-75, on a pair of free throws by Horford with 9:48 left in the fourth quarter. They led by three points, 80-77, on Kover’s fifth 3-pointer. The Celtics answered with a 17-4 run to put the Hawks in that 10-point hole.
The Hawks were woeful in the first quarter as they shot just 17.4 percent (4 for 23) from the floor. After making two of their first three shots, the Hawks made just two of their next 20, including a stretch of seven straight misses. They trailed 29-10 after the first quarter. It was the lowest first-quarter output of the season, easily worse than the 15 points they scored against the Bulls on Jan. 14. That was the game the Hawks set team record lows for points in a game (58), half (20) and quarter (5).
The Celtics continued their onslaught and pushed their lead to 27 points midway through the second quarter. The Hawks cut into the Celtics lead and trailed 57-38 at the half.
Then came the dramatic comeback.
“The most exciting part to me was how we didn’t lay down in that second half,” Smith said. “We came out, down by 19, everybody understood what was at stake. We wanted to come out and play a great second half. It wasn’t that the energy wasn’t there in the first half, we just couldn’t make shots.”
The Hawks tied the franchise record for overcoming the largest halftime deficit. They also overcame 19 points at Baltimore in 1969 and at Orlando in 2004.