Getting organized, getting good shots and not rushing has been the biggest difference for the Hawks, Huerter said, in addition to getting the ball in the right hands (another example of that is their comeback win vs. Milwaukee April 25, when they scored 41 points in the fourth quarter thanks to a late burst from backup guard Lou Williams).
In addition to Young’s crafty display Sunday helping you forget all about the Hawks’ fourth-quarter woes earlier in the season, the Hawks putting up 36 points (to the Knicks’ 32), going 5-of-7 from 3-point range (71.4%) after going 7-of-27 (25.9%) the first three quarters probably helped, too. Wing Bogdan Bogdanovic came alive, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc (4-of-9 overall) and scoring nine of his 18 points in the fourth.
It wasn’t perfect, with Alec Burks going off for 18 points, though he didn’t capitalize when it mattered most, missing a jumper with 35.5 seconds to play after Bogdanovic stole the ball back from RJ Barrett and quickly released a high-difficulty 3 to tie things up, 103-103. But, the Hawks executed well enough to rally from a six-point deficit and nab a win in front of a rowdy Madison Square Garden crowd of about 15,000. Under McMillan, they continue to show growth in buckling down and winning games late.
“That fourth quarter, the scoring, the lead went back and forth and I thought our guys did a good job of just staying with it on both ends of the floor, not really showing a panic or anything like that,” said McMillan, who preaches the three C’s of calm, clear and connected to his players. “I thought they showed poise and control and did a good job of finishing that fourth quarter. … I have seen, or continue to see, growth in this team.”
One thing that has helped the Hawks become such a fourth-quarter team, per McMillan, is in practice showing the team situations they’ll encounter late in the game and playing through those scenarios, so they’re clear about what they need to execute.
It has also been key for the team to stay even-keeled in tough situations, Collins said after the win, at that point having recovered his shoe.
“It’s something we’ve been working on the whole year, being calm, being connected,” Collins said. “It’s vital for us winning games and it’s some of the reason, or part of the reason why we won (Sunday), is because we were connected and calm with the basketball down the stretch. We made good plays and came up victorious.”