It took 53 minutes to decide a winner on Wednesday evening, as the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks went to overtime in what was a competitive yet aesthetically ugly basketball game. In the end, it was the home team that prevailed with a 102-98 victory that improves Atlanta’s record to the .500 mark on the season.
In what was a wild first half, the Knicks drew first blood. New York used an early 12-2 run to claim a 14-10 lead, but the Hawks responded with back-to-back threes from Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver to level the playing field.
Shortly thereafter, the Knicks built an eight-point advantage that prompted a timeout from Mike Budenholzer and the visitors held the mojo. However, Dennis Schröder returned to action following the stoppage and keyed a 15-2 spurt by opening up the offense in a positive fashion.
The “main event” of the half, though, occurred when Carmelo Anthony and Thabo Sefolosha engaged in a scuffle with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter. Originally, the dust-up was ruled as a double technical foul but, after official review, it was deemed that Anthony would be ejected as a result of a blow to Sefolosha’s head during the course of play.
At that point, the Hawks held a 41-38 lead and, with New York’s leader out of the game, Atlanta looked to be in control. The Knicks responded by closing the half strong, however, and the visiting team actually took a two-point lead into halftime at 47-45.
New York then threatened to run away and hide in the third quarter, zooming to a 10-2 run that gave the visiting team an eight-point lead at 62-54. Fortunately, the Hawks were able to stabilize things from there largely on the defensive end and the two teams took a one-point margin to the fourth quarter.
While aesthetics were not pleasing on either end, a back-and-forth battle continued. The Knicks flashed a 9-2 run punctuated by a three from old friend Justin Holiday to take a 78-74 advantage with seven minutes left, but the Hawks wouldn’t fade. Atlanta scored the next six points to reclaim the lead and an admittedly split crowd was energized in a big way.
With three minutes remaining, the score was knotted at 81-81 and tensions were high. Derrick Rose then converted a mid-range jumper to give New York the advantage and Dwight Howard followed that up by converting two (!) free throws to even the score after a “Hack-A-Dwight” with 2:16 on the clock.
After a stop, Dennis Schröder and Kristaps Porzingis traded baskets, giving the Hawks the ball with less than 90 seconds to play in a tie game. Kent Bazemore then airballed a three (he wanted a foul call) from the corner but the Knicks went through a fruitless possession in their own right as a Rose jumper caromed off the rim.
That provided the Hawks with possession in an 84-84 game with less than a minute remaining, but Atlanta’s trip went begging on a Schröder pull-up three. Fortunately, the Knicks were also unable to scratch after a rebound bounced off Porzingis and Mike Budenholzer’s team had a final opportunity in regulation with 7.5 ticks remaining. Schröder’s shot fell harmlessly to the floor, though, and the two teams restarted from square one with five minutes of clock time.
Overtime, like the rest of the evening, wasn’t played at a particularly high level. Still, the Hawks built a four-point lead after an “onions”-worthy three from Kyle Korver and, on the next offensive possession, Dwight Howard finished a dunk after a great drop-off from Millsap. That sequence gave Atlanta a five-point lead that was turned into six by a technical foul on Jeff Hornacek and, with just two minutes to play, things seemed comfortable.
Nevertheless, nothing comes easy for the Hawks this season and that was the case on this night. Joakim Noah and Kristaps Porzingis combined to score the next four points as New York slashed the lead to 97-95 with 1:10 left and there was plenty of basketball to be played. Howard then converted one of two free throws on one end while Noah made both on the other, providing the Hawks with just a one-point lead.
Atlanta then produced an empty offensive possession and the visiting Knicks took possession with 15.2 seconds left in a 98-97 game. Rose then fell down, turning the ball over to the Hawks and Schröder connected on both free throws with six seconds remaining. Then, Porzingis was actually fouled (sigh) by Thabo Sefolosha on a three-point attempt, but the young big man missed the first of three free throws and the Knicks committed a lane violation on the third attempt to help Atlanta secure victory.
Individually, Dennis Schröder put together yet another strong effort, scoring 27 points and dishing out five assists in 40 minutes of action. Dwight Howard also added a monster stat line with 16 points and 22 rebounds in 38 minutes.
No one would claim that this was a particularly well played game, especially on offense, but the Hawks will accept wins in any fashion necessary right now and this was one. Atlanta will be in action again on Friday against the Detroit Pistons and the team will look to keep whatever positive mojo going at that point. Stay tuned.