Jamal Crawford is getting all the shine for the Hawks' victory Friday night, and for good reason.
His highlight-show, 28-foot jumper at the buzzer sent the Hawks to an unlikely triumph after many in the Philips Arena crowd had assumed the game was over and left.
“I wouldn’t even call it luck,” Hawks forward Josh Smith said after the Suns blew a four-point lead in the final 10 seconds. “I call it a gift God gave us. I’m still thanking Him.”
Divine or not, the shot was the flashiest part of the Hawks’ fifth victory in six games, but it wouldn't have happened without the grunt work that came earlier.
Look at those three consecutive Suns possessions after they led 94-88.
Suns guard Steve Nash got to the basket but was met by Hawks big man Al Horford, who forced the miss. Phoenix guard Grant Hill missed a turnaround jumper under pressure, and Horford rebounded. And Amare Stoudemire traveled after his move to the basket was met by collapsing defenders.
“We showed a lot of guts, poise and character,” said Hawks guard Joe Johnson.
The Hawks started slowly, trailing by 12 in the second quarter, but then rallied with defensive grit in the third. They held the Suns to 7-of-20 shooting and 20 points in the quarter while Horford, Johnson and Smith combined for 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
The Suns came back to lead by seven with less than four minutes to play. The Hawks never stopped competing and, after what Johnson acknowledged were some “good bounces” in their favor, they were rewarded when Crawford made the big shot.
The Suns led by one when Crawford scored on the putback and then fouled Stoudemire with 3 seconds to go. During the timeout, Crawford said he told Hawks assistant Larry Drew he wanted the ball.
“I said, ‘Give it to me, I’ll knock it down,’ ” Crawford said. “He was like, ‘We don’t even have the ball yet.’ ”
They got it back after Stoudemire missed 1 of 2 free throws. The play was supposed to go to Johnson on a curl, but it wasn’t open, so Mike Bibby gave it to Johnson out top.
Crawford sized up Jared Dudley, who cut off his space and got a hand up. Crawford made the high-arching jumper to stun the Suns, send the remaining fans into frenzy and prompt Smith to jump on the scorer’s table in celebration.
“He’s a big shotmaker, and he proved it tonight,” Johnson said.
And the Hawks proved they have some perseverance to go along with their playmaking.
“We’re not going to fold in adverse situations,” Crawford said. “We’re going to come back and make a game of it. It was gut-check time for us, and we got it.”
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Credit: Channel 2 Action News