The Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford scored on a last-second shot that puts the Hawks at the precipice of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
ESPN is reporting that Horford flew into the fray under the basket, grabbed the rebound and scored with 1.9 seconds left in the game to give the Hawks the 82-81 lead and eventual victory. Originally, Horford was supposed to provide support for the Hawks offense.
“I wasn’t supposed to be involved in the play at all,” Horford said. “When I saw the ball go up, I just ran in there.”
Both teams combined in a back-and-forth grudge, with the Hawks going scoreless for seven minutes during the fourth quarter. Then, as if by magic, the Hawks reeled off the next 14 points to take the lead. However, with 8.3 seconds left, the Washington Wizards’ Paul Pierce looked to duplicate his Game 3 heroics, scoring to give the Wizards an 81-80 lead. That set up Horford’s heroics.
The Hawks’ Dennis Shroeder, a backup guard, took a shot that was deflected off the glass by the Wizards’ John Wall, playing for the first time since suffering five non-displaced fractures in his left hand. Horford pulled the rebound away from the Wizards’ Nene, who fell to the floor, leaving Horford all alone under the basket. One shot later, the Hawks took their final lead. The Wizards tried a half-court shot at the buzzer, but it fell short.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Hawks and Wizards both struggled offensively, but the Hawks had that one more play.
”A heck of a play by Al,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said
The Wizards still have a chance to tie the series at three, when they host the Hawks Friday night in Washington. The Wizard’s head coach, Randy Wittman, is still pleased with his team’s effort.
”Hey, these guys are fighting. I love it,” Wittman said. ”They made one more play than us.”
The big story for the Wizards was Wall’s return, having missed three games. Wall finished with 15 points, seven assists, and four steals.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 23 points. Horford had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks.
The Hawks’ Kyle Korver continues to struggle, hitting only one shot, but it was an important shot. Korver hit a three-pointer with 4:58 left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks’ first basket of that quarter. Horford followed that three-pointer with a three-pointer of his own, and the Hawks clawed their way back into the game.
Horford put the victory in perspective.
“We’re happy,” Horford said, ”but we understand it’s one game.”
[Image courtesy of Top Bet]