Hawks show heart to beat Heat, get back in series

Hawks owner Tony Ressler reacts to a call during the first half in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at State Farm Arena on Friday, April 22, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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Hawks owner Tony Ressler reacts to a call during the first half in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at State Farm Arena on Friday, April 22, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)



Heavy-metal music blared from the speakers as the State Farm Arena scoreboard flashed the message: “Get Loud.” Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan got on the mic and urged Hawks fans to make some noise. They weren’t feeling it, though, and who could blame them?

The Heat were scoring at will. The Hawks couldn’t score at all. The home team looked done.

Then, everything changed for the Hawks, and not because Trae Young was carrying them.

Bogdan Bogdanovic made shots. Onyeka Okongwu matched Miami’s muscle. Delon Wright did a little of everything. The Hawks wouldn’t give in. They scrapped and scraped until they earned a victory that essentially saved their season.

The Hawks won 111-110 on Friday night. They were staring at a 3-0 series deficit after Miami’s 21-0 run in the third quarter. Now they are down 2-1 with another home game on Sunday in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

“Yeah, they made some tough shots, we make mistakes, we missed some open shots, we turn the ball over sometimes,” Bogdanovic said. “But we didn’t quit.”

The Heat didn’t, either.

When the Hawks answered Miami’s big third-quarter run, the Heat surged again in the fourth quarter. The Hawks tied the game with less than four minutes to go, but Miami went ahead again. The Hawks got the lead in the final two minutes, then the Heat forged a tied. The Hawks got another lead before P.J. Tucker’s 3-pointer made it 110-109 Miami with 54.2 seconds left.

Young had another night of hard work against Miami’s physical defense. He ended it by making a floater with 4.4 seconds left. It was the game-winning shot, but that’s not how the Hawks won this game.

“This was a total team effort, a total team win,” Young said.

The Hawks blamed their Game 1 loss on a failure to match Miami’s intensity. They said turnovers sunk them in Game 2. The Hawks were better at those things in Game 3. They still were down 84-68 after Miami’s 21-0 run.

Said coach Nate McMillan: “I thought we got distracted by calls. (The Heat) were physical and aggressive. In the fourth quarter, our guys took a deep breath and got back to calm.”

The Hawks started their comeback by scoring on four of their last five possessions of the third quarter. The Heat managed just one free throw during those two minutes. Miami’s lead was 85-77 to begin the fourth quarter.

Another Heat run put Atlanta in a 94-80 hole with nine minutes to play. The Hawks kept coming. The Heat had to work hard to score. Their defensive rotations couldn’t keep up with Atlanta’s crisp ball movement. Bogdanovic made a trio of 3-pointers over a three-minute span.



Miami’s lead was down to 98-95 with six minutes to play. Young converted a 3-point play with a slick hesitation move against Tucker to tie the score with 3:33 to go. The Hawks were surging and their fans were in a frenzy.

“When we have that confidence, it’s hard to stop us,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s hard to stop that belief.”

The Heat nosed ahead on Max Strus’s 3-pointer. Young answered with a 3-pointer to tie. Miami’s Tyler Herro threw away a pass. Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer rimmed out, but Okongwu collected it. He powered in the follow while being fouled and made the free throw to put the Hawks ahead 107-104.

After Miami’s Jimmy Butler made a 3-pointer to tie, Strus bumped Young as he accelerated along the sideline. Young made both free throws. The Hawks somehow lost sharpshooter Tucker on Miami’s next possession. He made a corner 3-pointer, his specialty, and the Heat led 110-109 with less than a minute to play.

This was it for the Hawks. Win, and they would be back in this series. Lose, and they’d have a slim chance of coming back from down 3-0 against the Heat. The chances of a bad outcome for the Hawks increased when their next possession went poorly. It ended with Kevin Huerter missing a 3-pointer that Tucker rebounded.

But the Hawks dug in on defense. Miami couldn’t get a good look. Bogdanovic challenged Butler’s shot late in the shot clock and chased down the miss. He handed the ball to Young with 11.4 seconds to go.

“No way I was calling a timeout,” McMillan said.

No need. The right guy had the game in his hands.

Young calmy dribbled up the court and sized up Tucker. He watched to see if Tucker’s teammates would commit to help on the drive. Okongwu had cleared out Bam Adebayo on Butler’s miss, so the Heat’s rim-protecting center was late getting back. When Young slipped past Tucker to get into the paint, it was Butler who met him at the basket.

Young lifted a soft floater over Butler. It fell through the hoop with 4.4 seconds to play. Butler missed a jumper at the buzzer with De’Andre Hunter offering a strong challenge.

“This kind of game can go either way,” Bogdanovic said. “But probably we deserve it tonight.”

The Hawks didn’t quit when they looked finished. Now they are back in this series.



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