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Hawks drop overtime thriller to Blazers, 124-113

A valiant effort falls short in overtime

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks face a difficult challenge over the next ten days, squaring off with five quality opponents from the Western Conference. On the first night of the five-game swing, Lloyd Pierce’s team performed quite admirably but, in the end, the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Hawks in overtime by a final score of 124-113.

The evening began in shaky fashion for Atlanta, with Portland zooming to a 9-2 run. The Hawks opened the night 1 of 7 from the floor but there were bright spots, including the play of Jabari Parker.

The Hawks were able to keep things close in the early going and, when the bench entered the fray, the results improved with help from DeAndre’ Bembry. In fact, the reserves keyed a 9-0 run to take a 19-18 lead, with Bembry creating six of the nine points.

Portland did take control early in the second quarter, scoring the first eight points of the period. Mercifully, the Hawks then started connecting on jumpers, with Kevin Huerter and Trae Young knocking down back-to-back threes.

From there, it was a game of runs for most of the period, with the two teams trading spurts until Alex Len converted a layup to give Atlanta a brief lead. The Blazers took a two-point lead into the half but, given that the Hawks struggled mightily to score efficiently (81.9 offensive rating), the narrow margin was likely a blessing. On the bright side, Atlanta’s defense was strong and Parker contributed four (!) blocked shots in the first half.

After a first half that was anything but aesthetically pleasing on either end, things ramped up in the third, beginning with a gorgeous pass from Young to Parker.

Young and Parker combined to score 40 of Atlanta’s first 61 points and, when Young found Damian Jones for a dunk, the Hawks took the lead.

De’Andre Hunter then connected on a triple to extend the margin to five, setting Atlanta’s largest advantage of the evening.

From there, the Blazers did push back behind Anfernee Simons and that sent the game to the fourth quarter with the score knotted at 75-75. Still, Young was phenomenal in the third period, scoring 15 points and dishing out five assists to put Atlanta in a favorable position.

The fourth quarter started in strong fashion, with Hunter knocking down a three to tie the game and Parker delivering a highlight-reel dunk.

Atlanta managed to navigate more than six minutes without Young in positive fashion, actually outscoring the Blazers by three points. That stretch was keyed by Hunter and, for good measure, reserve guard Ty Wallace contributed a crucial three-point play.

When Young returned, the game settled into a back-and-forth battle. The Hawks took a three-point lead on an impressive floater by Young but the Blazers battled back on the strength of Lillard. Young converted an off-dribble three to go up 102-98 but, after a three-point play by the Blazers, things tightened again.

With 1:09 remaining, Young attacked the rim and drew a foul call against Hassan Whiteside. After a coach’s challenge from Portland was successful, however, the whistle was negated and the Blazers took over with the ball and a one-point lead at 103-102. CJ McCollum then buried a mid-range jump shot to put Atlanta in a three-point hole but, after a missed three-pointer by Parker, Huerter chased down a rebound and converted a three-pointer to tie the game at 105-105 with 27 seconds remaining.

Lillard then got to the rim for a bucket to give the Blazers a two-point lead with 7.6 seconds left. After a timeout from Pierce, Huerter converted a beautiful floater off the glass to tie the game and Portland’s buzzer-beater attempt went begging, sending the game to an extra frame.

The overtime period wasn’t kind to the Hawks, though, as the Blazers asserted control immediately and never relented. Kent Bazemore converted back-to-back threes to give Portland a six-point edge and, after a small push from Atlanta’s offense, things went cold and the home team finished off an 11-point victory over the Hawks.

Individually, Young and Parker were the standouts for the Hawks, with the point guard producing 35 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, while the power forward scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Elsewhere, Hunter had arguably the best game of his young career with 14 points and Huerter added 15 points and six rebounds.

The Hawks will return to action on Tuesday evening with a difficult road test against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Stay tuned.