AJ Griffin makes history in overtime victory

Move over, Toni Kukoč, you have company.

Atlanta’s AJ Griffin became the first rookie since Kukoč in the 1993-1994 season to have multiple game-winning shots in overtime. Griffin scored with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Hawks a dramatic 123-122 victory over the Bulls Sunday. His first-game winner came in a 124-122 overtime win against the Raptors on Nov. 19 as he was on the recieving end of a pass from Trae Young as time expired.

“It’s definitely a cool club to be in; obviously, I wasn’t born then,” Griffin said. “To be in that club is definitely a blessing.”

Griffin, 19, helped the Hawks (14-13) snap a three-game losing streak with his turnaround layup at the buzzer at State Farm Arena.

As Jalen Johnson sent the alley-oop Griffin’s way, he contorted his body to avoid his defender and catch the pass to make the shot.

The Hawks initially planned for Young to lob the ball to Johnson from out of bounds. But Young read the Bulls’ defense and called timeout. It gave Hawks assistant coach Joe Prunty a chance to diagram a play.

“I was thinking the same thing I thought on the last game-winner,” Griffin said. “Coach drew up a great play, and JJ, that was a great pass. I called him QB1 right after that; it was funny, he’ll be on ‘Madden (NFL video game),’ too. I asked him what route that was; it was a comeback route.”

Griffin finished with 17 points, two rebounds and two assists.

Griffin credited the confidence of his teammates and coaches for his ability to continue to work through the growing pains of his first NBA season.

“It’s everything, really,” Griffin said. “Having that confidence from coach (Nate McMillan) to go out there and execute. I think playing through the mistakes, knowing when the shot is not falling, you just keep playing. Not even just from the coaches but from all the players and the staff, to be able to encourage me and keep going.”

Griffin has kept the Hawks going multiple times in his first 27 games. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Young and McMillan praised Griffin’s potential and said he has earned their trust.