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Hawks outlast Knicks in 142-139 4OT thriller

Well, that was a wild one. To say the least.

NBA: New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It took 68 minutes of clock time to decide a winner on Sunday afternoon/evening at Philips Arena. In one of the wilder games in recent NBA memory, the Atlanta Hawks outlasted the New York Knicks for a 142-139 victory in four overtimes and, yes, it was as crazy as it sounds.

In a nice change from Friday, Atlanta’s offense was blazing at the outset. The Hawks made their first five shots on the way to 57 percent shooting in the first quarter and that end of the floor wasn’t a problem in the slightest. On the flip side, Carmelo Anthony was a thorn in Atlanta’s side.

Anthony took over the proceedings, scoring 15 points in the first quarter, and he was the biggest reason that the Hawks were saddled with a seven-point deficit after 12 minutes of action. The Knicks did not let up from there, pushing the lead to double-figures in the second quarter before Atlanta stopped the bleeding with a 12-4 run in the final minutes.

The end result was a 65-61 halftime deficit and that was indicative of struggles defensively and a strong offensive performance. Paul Millsap led the way with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists before halftime, with Kent Bazemore adding 10 points on only five shot attempts. With that said, New York’s offense scored at a clip of 1.3 points per possession and the Hawks were charged with holding Anthony (who finished with 23 first-half points) in check moving forward.

Fortunately, the defense took that bit of friendly advice to heart and the results reflected that change. Atlanta used a 15-0 (!) run to claim an 83-77 lead late in the third quarter and, during that blitz, the Knicks were wholly impotent offensively. New York did not score for more than seven minutes of clock time and that run included 11 consecutive misses from the field.

That defensive push placed the Hawks in strong position for a victory, as the home team held an 83-81 advantage at the start of the closing period. New York wasn’t going away quietly, though, scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter (nine straight overall) to reclaim the lead.

From there, Tim Hardaway Jr. took control offensively. The young wing, starting in place of an injured Thabo Sefolosha, put together a run with eight consecutive points, including back-to-back three-point plays. That placed Atlanta back in solid position with a 97-92 lead with less than six minutes remaining.

That wasn’t enough to provide comfort, though, as Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Jennings combined for seven straight points to reestablish New York with a 99-97 lead with 2:31 remaining. Coming out of a timeout, Paul Millsap went to work in scoring the tying bucket and, on the other end, the four-time All-Star drew an offensive foul call against Anthony to net possession again.

The ensuing possession ended in free throws for Dwight Howard, who promptly responded with a timely two-for-two showing. That provided the Hawks with a two-point lead but it was quickly erased with a three-pointer from old friend Justin Holiday that flipped the edge on the scoreboard again.

On cue, Dennis Schröder found Dwight Howard for a beautiful alley-oop connection, giving the home team a 103-102 advantage with 45.2 ticks remaining. Following a break in the action, the Hawks were able to generate a stop as Anthony missed an 18-foot jumper. Then, Tim Hardaway Jr., after missing a short-range attempt, was bailed out by an offensive rebound and made 1 of 2 at the free throw line to provide a two-point cushion with 9.9 seconds on the clock.

Carmelo Anthony took full advantage of the opportunity, though, converting an isolation play against Paul Millsap to tie the game at 104-104 with 2.6 seconds left. On the other end, Millsap got a reasonable look but failed to convert a contested hook shot, sending the game to overtime.

The Hawks claimed an early (and tenuous) lead but the Knicks weren’t quite done. Justin Holiday knocked down (another) three to give the visitors a 109-108 lead with 2:16 remaining and that was followed by a bucket from Anthony to extend the margin to three points. Then, after a timeout, the Hawks put together an empty possession, but a stop ensued on the other end and Dwight Howard converted a lay-up to narrow the distance.

Howard was also fouled and, while he missed the three-point play opportunity, the Knicks were whistled for a loose ball foul that allowed Tim Hardaway Jr. to knot the score after making 1 of 2 at the line himself. With the score knotted at 111-111, the Hawks netted a stop but, after official review, it became a jump-ball situation with 32.9 seconds remaining.

Atlanta, quite fortunately, controlled the tip and immediately called timeout to set up the offensive possession. That trip ended in an off-the-dribble bucket from Dennis Schröder to send Atlanta to a 113-111 lead with 22.2 seconds left and the pressure moved back to New York’s side of the floor. Naturally, Anthony would not allow the Knicks to die, burying yet another jumper to tie the game as the clock read 6.9 seconds. A last-second attempt from Dennis Schröder proved frivolous and off to the second overtime we went.

In the final period, the Hawks took control with a four-point advantage after Millsap knocked down a contested jumper with less than two and a half minutes to play. Yet again, Anthony had a response, burying a three to bring the score to 119-118 after Dwight Howard fouled out on a (very) questionable call.

Millsap then got to the line and made both, buoying Atlanta to a 121-118 advantage with 1:37 on the clock. Anthony then made another contested jumper over two Hawks and, after an empty possession for the home team, New York finally generated a miss off Anthony’s hand.

Dennis Schröder then turned what appeared to be the biggest play in a game full of big plays. The young point guard got to the rim and finished a lay-up to provide the Hawks with a three-point cushion and, for good measure, the play sent Carmelo Anthony to the bench with his sixth foul. Schröder did miss the ensuing free throw that would have all but clinched victory and that proved to be important. New York’s Courtney Lee then buried a three with 1.5 seconds to knot the proceedings at 123-123 and the Hawks failed to answer before the buzzer.

The third (!) overtime began with another Justin Holiday three, but Paul Millsap quickly restored order. The veteran scored five straight points, including a long-range connection, but nothing was safe. The Knicks quickly tied the game at 128-128 and, after a miss from Schröder, Hawks fans were forced to endure a three-pointer in the air from Holiday that looked sure to fall.

That attempt clanged off the rim harmlessly, though, allowing Atlanta to regain possession with just over a minute remaining. After a miss from Schröder, Mike Muscala chased down a loose ball to keep possession and Mike Budenholzer was granted timeout with 47.3 seconds on the clock in a tie game.

The resulting possession ended in a quality look, but Millsap’s three from the top of the key didn’t fall. That allowed the Knicks to jump back into the driver’s seat with the ball and 28.8 seconds remaining and the visitors actually dealt what appeared to be the final blow. Courtney Lee was fouled with 9.6 seconds left, making both free throws, but Schröder immediately sprinted to the rim for a tying lay-up as the clock read 3.0 seconds. That sent things to a fourth overtime. Yes, you’re reading that right.

Hilariously, the fourth overtime began with comical three-point barrage on both sides. The Knicks connected on three triples within the first 2:30 of clock time, with two from Brandon Jennings and one from Holiday. Atlanta answered with two bombs from Kent Bazemore, though the Hawks trailed 139-136 as a result of the trade-off.

Then, after misfires on both ends, Bazemore drove to the rim for a bucket to slash the margin to 139-138 with just under 1:40 to play. The Hawks then generated a defensive stop and, after penetration, Millsap was fouled by Kyle O’Quinn (his sixth foul) to set up 1 of 2 from the line with 1:14 remaining as the Hawks knotted the score.

The Knicks then succumbed to a shot clock violation, giving the ball back to the home team with 45.4 seconds remaining. Millsap converted a bucket with 27.4 seconds left to, for the millionth time, send the Hawks to the lead at 141-139 and one stop was needed to preserve the insanity of a 4OT win. The Knicks obliged with haste, throwing the ball away, but Schröder made only 1 of 2 free throws to keep the door open for a New York miracle. Finally, Courtney Lee’s last-second attempt fell to the floor and the game came to a merciful end.

In a 68-minute basketball game, there were some fantastic performances on both sides. Carmelo Anthony took full advantage of the absence of Thabo Sefolosha on the way to 45 points in 46 minutes, while Paul Millsap matched him with a phenomenal all-around game that included 37 points (a season high), 19 rebounds and seven assists for Atlanta. Dennis Schröder wasn’t terribly efficient (9 of 25 from the floor) but he finished with 23 points and a career-high 15 assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. also set a career high with eight assists to go along with 19 points.

Each member of Atlanta’s starting lineup played at least 38 minutes, with Schröder (55), Millsap (60 minutes, a franchise record) and Hardaway Jr. (58) carrying immense loads. Dwight Howard fouled out before the end, but he contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Kent Bazemore also performed heroics at various times with 24 points and nine rebounds.

The Atlanta Hawks were involved in only the 11th four-overtime game in NBA history on Sunday and, in the end, it was a win. Stay tuned.