Hawks lose to Hornets in two overtimes

Well, the Hawks’ domination over the Hornets here had to end somehow, and it couldn’t have possibly ended wilder than it did on Friday night.

Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson, a newcomer to the series with the newly-renamed Hornets, banked in a 30-foot 3-point shot that rattled in at the buzzer to send the crowd at Time Warner Arena into a frenzy after a 122-119 double overtime win.

The Hawks’ streak of six straight wins over the Hornets in Charlotte – and only their second loss in the past 15 meetings between these two teams – ended with Stephenson on top of the scorer’s table in full primal scream.

And it took that kind of effort to finally put away the Hawks. The Hawks forced double overtime with a 3-pointer from Mike Scott – on his second try – with 3.6 seconds left. And the Hawks had another chance to win it with 2.5 seconds left in the second overtime and turned the ball over on an offensive foul by Kyle Korver – the ninth offensive foul they’d committed in the game.

Stephenson finished the hero but it was Al Jefferson who did most of the dirty work with 34 points. Kemba Walker had 15 points and nine rebounds. Gary Neal chipped in 23 points off the bench. Together they brought the Hornets their first win at home against the Hawks since April 13, 2011.

All five Hawks starters scored in double-figures, led by Al Horford with 24, Jeff Teague with 22 and Korver with 20. The balanced scoring was impressive, but this game came down to one player making the big shot, and those honors went to Stephenson.

The Hawks had a couple of candidates for that themselves. They hit two incredible 3-point shots to keep their chances alive in the final ticks of the first overtime. Korver nailed a 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds left in overtime to the cut the Hornets’ lead to 1, 108-107, after Horford had planted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on his back with a vicious screen.

Walker hit two free throws, but the Hawks came back with a game-tying 3-pointer with another devastating long range shot – this one on a second try in the a mad flurry from Scott and the Hawks with 3.6 seconds left.

Scott had missed his a 3-point attempt from the left side just moments earlier and the Hornets looked like they had corralled the rebound. But Walker lost his balance on the baseline and tried to get rid of the ball as he was falling out of bounds. The officials ruled Walker’s heel was on the baseline, Hawks ball. Video replay confirmed, and with the ensuing inbounds play, Scott hit this time from the right corner to send the game to a second overtime, tied 110-110.

The Hornets had a great chance to win it in only slightly less dramatic fashion with the ball in Walker’s hands with 15.4 to go and a 119-119 tie in the second overtime. He tried a wicked cross-over to beat Teague but then had Horford behind him, and Horford got just enough of a piece of his shot to force a shot clock violation with 2.5 left.

The Hawks had led most of the regulation and looked like they had the game in hand late in the fourth quarter but a costly turnover with 19 seconds left in regulation changed it all.

Horford had just faked Walker out of his shoes, and driven to the goal for a two-handed dunk to give the Hawks a 3-point cushion their previous trip down the floor. The Hawks had the ball back with 19.9 seconds to go and a 1-point lead in hand. But Horford apparently shuffled his feet, and the whistle blew, turning a simple pass from the top of the key toward Teague into a turnover.

The Hornets took that gift and tied the game on a pick-n-roll from Walker to Jefferson, who was fouled and made the second of two free throws. The Hornets had trailed since the 4:31 mark of the third quarter, but they had new ideas then.

The Hawks had one last shot in regulation but a Paul Millsap jumper rolled off the front rim, and they were looking at overtime for the first time this young season.