It took season highs of 33 points from Paul Millsap and 28 from Lou Williams and an off-balance fall away three pointer from Pero Antic to secure an overtime win for the Atlanta Hawks over their divisional rivals, the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The 118-116 win improved the Falcons record to 17-13.
The Hawks started the game with the knowledge that they would be without team leading scorer, rebounder and blocker, Al Horford indefinitely who suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the overtime win on Thursday night at Cleveland.
So this Hawks team has to adjust to life in the NBA without Horford. Coach Mike Budenholzer remarked, “It’s going to take some time to learn how to play without Al. We have to get everybody comfortable, to keep the ball moving, to know where the spots are.”
One of the changes the Hawks made in their game plan for the Bobcats was to switch to an outside shooting game. Playing catch up for all of the second half, the Hawks put the ball up from beyond the three-point arc 39 times while in the previous 29 games they had tried that shot fewer than 24 times.
The star for the Atlanta Hawks on the night was Paul Millsap who, in addition to his season-high 33 points, had 13 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season.
Lou Williams came off the bench to add his season-high 28 points, ten of which were in overtime effectively icing the game for the Hawks.
While Millsap and Williams led the Hawks it was Pero Antic’s three-pointer, made with 3.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it into overtime that got the biggest and loudest cheer of the night from the 15,180 in attendance. It also received a lot of comment after the game.
Coach Budenholzer said of the shot, “That was not one of the options. Sometimes….you hit a lucky shot! Pero’s a heck of a player. He’s a heck of a shot maker…But I think we were fortunate!”
Lou Williams added, “ He get’s a lot of criticism (in practice) for that shot too. We really criticize him about that shot. I told him I apologize tonight. I won’t bother him ever again about it.”
Even Al Jefferson of the Charlotte Bobcats even chimed in on Antic’s shot, “ This is a game we should have won. My guy [Antic] hits a three-point shot going left, off one leg to tie the game. What can you say? It’s part of the game I guess. It hurts though!”
Antic’s increased playing time, with Horford’s absence, also resulted in season highs for assists and blcoks.
With Al Horford out indefinitely, the Atlanta Hawks are going to have to have different players step up into leadership roles. On Saturday night it was Paul Millsap and Lou Williams with Pero Antic being the unlikeliest of heros.
Up next for the Hawks are games on the road in Orlando and Boston before returning to the Highlight Factory on January 3 against the Golden State Warriors. The Charlotte Bobcats head out west for a four-game road trip with a first game in Utah.