The Atlanta Hawks beat the Nets 114-111 on Wednesday night at Barclays Center, their second win over the Nets in five days. This was a costly one for the Nets, as they fall to 8th place in the Eastern conference at 36-42, as the Celtics passed them based on tiebreakers.
The Hawks, the Eastern Conference leaders at 59-19, came in to Brooklyn on a back-to-back after beating the Phoenix Suns in Atlanta on Tuesday night. They were also dealing with the distraction of Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha being arrested for their actions in the nightclub incident early Wednesday morning at 1Oak in Manhattan. Indiana Pacer Chris Copeland was stabbed in the incident and Antic and Millsap were arrested for obstructing the crime scene.
The Hawks came out firing, and led 33-26 at the end of the first and 65-56 at halftime.
In the third, the Nets cut it to 5 points, at 65-60, in the early minutes and kept it around that deficit, trailing 77-71 when Joe Johnson hit a three at the 6:32 mark. The Hawks, as they did most of the night, responded with a 9-3 run and built the lead back to 12, at 86-74, on an Elton Brand layup at the 3:39 mark. The Hawks kept it right there and took a 94-82 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Hawks led by 12 on a Shelvin Mack three that made it 105-93 with 8:18 remaining. The Nets went on an 8-2 run over the next two minutes, including three baskets from Joe Johnson, to cut Atlanta’s lead to 105-101.
The Nets took their first lead of the entire game with 3:39 remaining on a Johnson layup that made it 109-108. It stayed that way for two minutes, until Atlanta re-took the lead on a Jeff Teague layup with 1:38 left that made it 110-109 Hawks.
The next possession for the Nets is one that would hurt them, as they missed a total of five shots, started by Jarrett Jack missing an open three, then Brook Lopez missed three tip-ins and Thaddeus Young missed a put-back. It ended when it rimmed out to Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll with 1:09 left.
The Nets took the lead once again with 33.5 seconds left as Deron Williams hit a shot on a driving layup. On the Hawks’ ensuing possession, Carroll missed a three in the corner, but he got a rebound and Atlanta had 28.9 seconds left. On the inbounds, Thaddeus Young took a foul, his sixth of the game, but the Nets were under the limit, so it did not result in free throws.
The Hawks had it with 24.1 seconds left, and they came out of a timeout with a brilliant play. The ball was inbounded to Carroll, who whipped it to Korver, at the three-point line. That drew Brook Lopez to double-team him, leaving Al Horford alone to receive the pass from Korver and slam one home to give Atlanta a 112-111 lead with 19.1 seconds left.
Deron Williams said of the play, “They just ran Kyle Korver off a couple screens and I was a little late getting out there and I think Brook (Lopez) saw it and kind of jumped out, and when he did, that was pretty much the design of the play. It was for us to help and he just whipped it down there to Horford.”
Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said of the play, “As with most things, we had a couple of options. Our players made a lot of good reads, made a lot of good decisions. At times, they draw a lot of attention and so if we move the ball, hopefully we’ll get a good look. It was a good read, good decision by Kyle Korver.”
The Nets needed just a basket to take the lead, but instead Jack tried a three in the corner that rimmed out, and it went to Bojan Bogdanovic at the top of the key and his three rimmed out as well with 3.9 seconds left. Bogdanovic said of the miss, “I thought it was a good shot, I thought it was going in. I knew the player was coming, maybe I should’ve faked and gone for the layup or a jump shot inside the paint, but we played a great game, especially in the last quarter. We have to stay together, there are four games left and we still have a great chance to get in.”
Teague got the rebound and he went to the free throw line with 2.7 seconds left and he hit his free throws to make it 114-111 Hawks.
The Nets still had plenty of time, 2.7 seconds, to tie it up, something their fans didn’t understand as many headed for the exits while Teague was at the free throw line. The inbounds went to Mr. Clutch, Joe Johnson, in the corner and he got a great look for a three, but it rimmed out.
Johnson said of what he thought of his last shot, “Well, it looked good. It was on line, but it was an awkward shot. I didn’t really get a great look. I turned and went into my shot and saw two guys flying at me so I kind of had to fling it but it was on line. Not necessarily a great shot, but it was the best shot available for us.”
Williams, who had 10 points and 13 assists, said of not being satisfied despite coming close, “It’s not really a moral victory. I guess it is good because we pretty much got blown out by them every game before this one. It’s a game we definitely wanted. It’s a little disappointing how we started the game but we did finish well and we had our chances.”
Williams said of the Nets needing to improve their defense, “They had 114 points, that’s a lot to give up. It wasn’t a great defensive effort tonight. We did some things offensively; we did some things defensively in stretches, but not consistently.”