The Atlanta Hawks (21-19) may be third in the Eastern Conference with a record of, but after last night’s 121-114 Martin Luther King Jr. game victory against the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat (29-12), they now have home wins over the other two top-ranked teams in the Eastern Conference.
In what was Atlanta’s first game since traveling “Across the Pond” to take on Brooklyn last week, the Hawks showed that they shouldn't be taken lightly. This was Atlanta’s first home win against the Heat since LeBron and Bosh joined up with Dwayne Wade.
It was a close game throughout, Atlanta led through the majority of the game, but Miami kept it to within 10 points most of the time. With about seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, LeBron James hit back-to-back three point shots to give Miami a 109-104 lead. Thanks to the clutch free throws hit by Millsap, Atlanta was able to retake the lead.
With Atlanta leading 116-114, Miami made the fatal mistake of leaving Kyle Korver open from beyond the arc. Korver drained the shot, giving Atlanta a 119-114 lead. Miami had a chance to still make it a game, but with 0:46 left, LeBron James made a horrible pass that resulted in a turnover. From there, Korver was able to sink two free throws, closing the book on Miami’s comeback attempt.
The first half was the textbook definition of a shootout. Throughout the entire game, both teams shot above 50 percent from the field and at halftime, Atlanta had a 71-70 lead. That’s right. Through 24 minutes of game play, the teams combined for 141 points.
For the game, Atlanta connected on 42 of their 81 shots from the field for a very respectable 52 percent. But what may have saved the game for Atlanta was their free throws throughout the game. As a team, Atlanta made 25 of 27 free throw attempts, better than 92 percent accuracy from the charity stripe.
Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 26 points and was simply in the zone. Millsap was 8-13 from the field and made 10 of his 11 free throw attempts. He also finished tied for the team lead with seven rebounds and added four assists.