The Hawks had a chance to make a statement.
They almost pulled it off.
The Hawks lost their ninth straight game to the Heat after a dramatic 121-119 overtime defeat at the AmericanAirlines Arena Monday night. The Hawks had a seven-point lead with 1:33 remaining in regulation and a three-point lead with 1:21 remaining in overtime but came up short against the two-time defending NBA champion Heat.
Michael Beasley made two free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining for the victory. The Hawks’ final chance was a lob pass from Pero Antic to Kyle Korver that failed with 2.3 seconds left. Chris Anderson, who got a finger on the final pass, sealed it with a free throw with .3 seconds left.
“They made a bunch of really clutch plays tonight,” Korver said. “We should have won that game a couple times. That’s why they are the champions. They’ve been through a bunch of these games. We’re still growing but we are getting better.”
The Hawks (15-13, 4-9 road) had a three-game win streak snapped and suffered their fifth straight loss on the road.
Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 26 points. Paul Millsap had 25 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 9.2 remaining in overtime. Al Horford had 21 points and Korver had 15 points for the Hawks. Korver extended his NBA-record streak to 97 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. He hit five 3-pointers to move past Brent Barry (1,395) for 23rd on the all-time list.
The Hawks went 17 of 34 from 3-point range, tying the second-most makes in team history. However, they missed their last five 3-pointers, including all four in overtime.
“You take away a lot of good things we did,” Millsap said. “Things are clicking. I feel like we are getting better. You have to take the positives.”
The Heat (21-6, 14-2 home) won their fifth straight. LeBron James led the Heat with a game-high 38 points, including two huge back-to-back 3-pointers with less than two minutes left in regulation to help erase the Hawks’ advantage. Dwyane Wade (sore knee) sat out the game.
The Hawks led 107-100 with 1:33 remaining in regulation. After James closed the game to a point we his 3-pointers, Lou Williams made two free throws with 22.3 seconds remaining. James dunked over Millsap with 14.4 seconds left before Teague and made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining. The Hawks led 111-108.
And then a little controversy.
DeMarre Carroll was called for a foul on a Ray Allen 3-point attempt with eight seconds left. Allen made all three freebies for a 111-111 tie. Millsap couldn’t get off a shot as time expired to set up the extra period.
“You saw it,” Carroll said of the foul call. “I’m not going to comment on it.”
When asked following the game what happened to the seven-point lead with less than two minutes remaining, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer curtly said: “LeBron James hit two walk-up 3’s and Ray Allen got fouled on a 3-point shot in the corner. That’s nine points right there.”
The Hawks also led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, 63-52, after starting the period on a 9-2 run. They took an 84-77 advantage into the final quarter as the continued their 3-point barrage. They Hawks hit six 3-pointers in the period, four by Millsap.
Things could not have started worse for the Hawks. They fell behind 13-0 after missing six straight shots and committing six turnovers. They didn’t get on the scoreboard until Millsap hit a 3-pointer with 7:10 remaining in the opening period.
The Hawks answered with a 16-5 run to pull within two points, 18-16. The Heat took a 10-point lead after the first quarter, 33-23, as they shot 69 percent (11 of 16) in the first 12 minutes.
The Hawks got going in the right direction in the second quarter. They outscored the Heat 31-17 in the period and took a 54-50 lead into halftime. The Hawks hit five 3-pointers in the quarter, part of a 9 of 13 long-range first half, to completely erase the woeful start. Korver (2), Millsap, Horford and Mike Scott all connected. The Hawks shot 72 percent (13 of 18) in the second quarter.
“It’s very disappointing,” Horford said of the loss. “I’m not happy about it, especially because we played so well. I felt like we should have had the game. Give them credit. They hung in there. There is a reason they are the champs.”
The Hawks next play at the Cavaliers Thursday.
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