Tuesday evening marked Vince Carter’s 1,500th NBA game and, with a decade that has spanned more than 20 years, that is yet another impressive milestone for the future Hall of Famer. Aside from that, however, there was basketball to be played and the Atlanta Hawks faced a tall task against the red-hot Miami Heat. Through 47 minutes, there were plenty of encouraging things to discuss for the Hawks but, in short, the final six minutes of the contest were unkind on the way to a 135-121 loss in overtime.
The early going was shaky for the Hawks, including a 12-0 run by the Heat to take control. Miami made their first five shots and, in a hurry, the Heat stretched their spurt to 20-3 overall. Fortunately, Atlanta’s offense rallied, largely due to long-range shooting.
The Hawks knocked down eight threes in the first quarter and, just moments after he was recognized for his 1,500th game (and final trip to Miami), Carter got in on the act.
It's your last game in Miami.— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 11, 2019
Take a bow, Vince. pic.twitter.com/XMFDRSFPJm
Vince is not here to be anyone's figurehead dignitary. He had 9 points in 5 first-quarter minutes. pic.twitter.com/HqYrF7BfvZ— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 11, 2019
Though it is almost difficult to be trailing by six after hitting eight threes, Atlanta’s response was admirable and the visitors kept coming. Early in the second quarter, the Hawks scored 10 straight points to reclaim the lead, including a (very) long triple from Trae Young.
From there, it was a lot of back and forth, with the Heat getting the last laugh with an 11-4 run to close the first half. Still, the Hawks weathered the early storm (with the help of a franchise record 13 three-pointers in the half) and, with only a two-point deficit, there was reason for tangible optimism.
The early portion of the third quarter belonged to Young, with the star guard scoring 10 points in less than four minutes to push Atlanta back into a tie game.
The rest of the third quarter was give-and-take for both teams but Atlanta finished the period strong with some help from Jabari Parker.
In the fourth quarter, De’Andre Hunter had one of the better stretches of his young career, scoring nine straight points to help Atlanta extend their lead.
De'Andre Hunter has 24 points. pic.twitter.com/XVkTQOlSn2— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 11, 2019
In fact, the Hawks were in an incredibly favorable position in crunch time, leading by six points in the final 90 seconds. However, things flew off the rails from there, with the (inexplicable) decision to run an offensive possession without Young on the floor and a pair of threes from Miami to tie the game.
Atlanta did dodge a bullet on the final possession of regulation, though, with Jimmy Butler missing an open jumper that would’ve ended it.
Jimmy Butler gets a great look at the buzzer, but to overtime we go. pic.twitter.com/wv2S4wJ0MA— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) December 11, 2019
In retrospect, it would’ve been better for the Hawks if the game actually did end there. The Heat scored 21 consecutive points (not a misprint) between the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime, making the game a blowout even in extra time. There was a complete lack of execution in overtime and, well, the Hawks simply ran out of gas.
In the end, this is a brutal loss for the Hawks, even with the caveat that there are some positives to take away. Hunter scored a career-high 28 points and was fantastic offensively. He was flanked by 21 points and nine assists from Young, with the team approaching a franchise record with 20 three-pointers.
The Hawks will face a quick (and brutal) turnaround with a road game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday evening. Stay tuned.