Coming off a close loss in Houston on Monday night, the Atlanta Hawks returned home for another matchup with a Western Conference foe, the Minnesota Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns and company arrived for their annual visit to State Farm Arena and it was a another all-timer between the two teams, as the Hawks prevailed in the second consecutive overtime game between the Hawks and Wolves by a final score of 131-123.
Before tip-off on Wednesday evening, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce announced the return of Kevin Huerter to the starting lineup. Alex Poythress and Miles Plumlee were Atlanta’s inactives. Huerter was joined by Trae Young, Taurean Prince, John Collins, and Dewayne Dedmon for Atlanta, while the Timberwolves rolled out Tyus Jones, former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Josh Okogie, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, and Towns.
The game started off very well for the Hawks as they rattled off 19 points in the first four and a half minutes including this incredible alley-oop from rookie sensation Trae Young to John Collins:
Raise the roof. (No, really. We don't want this oop hitting anything up high.) pic.twitter.com/oxlaN8apWF— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 28, 2019
Also included in that first four minutes were a couple of three-pointers by Dedmon (more on him in a second) and Huerter. The Timberwolves weren’t necessarily slouches either on the offensive end as they scored a quick ten points in the same time frame to keep themselves in the game.
Everything was going well for Atlanta until Dedmon picked up a quick second foul at the 8:30 mark, which sent him to the bench for the remainder of the quarter. Young and Collins did as much as they could, scoring seven and nine points respectively in the opening frame to keep the Hawks afloat.
So fresh and so clean, clean pic.twitter.com/c1A2uDbWU0— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 28, 2019
After the quick burst by the Hawks, Atlanta’s offense completely disappeared as the Wolves went on a 14-2 run over the next 3:46 to retake the lead, capped by a Towns coast-to-coast drive.
Jordan Sibert did see some time in the first quarter for the first time in a Hawks uniform (in front of Jaylen Adams) and was able to knock down his lone three-point attempt:
Down the stretch of the first quarter, it was all Minnesota as they were able to stretch the lead to seven at the end of the quarter on the back of back to back Derrick Rose jumpers to end the frame.
Atlanta was down 40-33, but Collins and Young were both off to promising starts going into the second quarter.
To begin the second quarter, the Hawks inserted fan favorite Vince Carter for his first action of the night. Huerter hit an early three before Carter hit one of his own to cut the lead to just two.
Kevin Huerter made a three off a *glorious* feed from Taurean Prince. pic.twitter.com/hRa9sQFBQE— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 28, 2019
Jerryd Bayless then went on a mini run of his own with five quick ones to take the Wolves lead back to six.
Young went back to work for Atlanta and scored six straight to get the game tied again, but Dedmon picked up his third foul around the 5:40 mark and without him in the game to guard Towns, things went off the rails rather quickly.
Young was able to make his way to the 20-point plateau around the four-minute mark, but things got even worse after he was subbed out of the game in favor of Adams. It’s no coincidence that the Wolves went on a 12-3 run over the final four minutes of the half to take a 68-60 lead into the locker room.
In the third period, the Timberwolves got off to a nice start while the Hawks tried to keep up on the back of Young, who quickly made his way to the 27-point mark before the midway point of the quarter.
The Hawks found themselves down double digits after Young exited the game late in the third and that was when Carter popped back in and put on a show.
First he hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity and hit this awkward little floater:
Then he comes down just a few possessions later and did what he does best:
V— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 28, 2019
(We can all go home now.) pic.twitter.com/RoJlv7SK3Z
It wasn’t pretty, but the Hawks trudged their way through the final three minutes without Young on the floor and thanks to a last-second three-pointer from DeAndre’ Bembry, went into the fourth quarter only down 95-86.
The Hawks came into the fourth quarter with a fire under them getting John Collins heavily involved on the offensive end, punctuated by this insane reverse dunk off the lob from Young:
Trae Young to John Collins for the front-rim reverse alley-oop. pic.twitter.com/T2dB27hnBs— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 28, 2019
Then, after a nice rebound in traffic, Bembry was able to draw a foul and hit the shot to tie the game from the free throw line.
The action really began to pick up over the final six minutes with Young leading the charge for Atlanta, as he picked up his 31st point of the night with six minutes remaining.
Minnesota attempted to go to Andrew Wiggins down the stretch but the Hawks were starting to build some momentum. However, with just over three minutes remaining, Atlanta had whittled the Minnesota lead down to just one point when Dedmon picked up his sixth foul, which expelled him from the game. Rather than bring in Alex Len in that spot, Atlanta opted to go small, putting Collins at the center position against Towns.
Collins picked up the slack and scored on three straight possessions to get the game tied up at 114, until Towns broke the deadlock with a poster dunk and-one opportunity at the one minute mark.
The final minute was chaos, as first John Collins threw down a big dunk off of Young’s tenth assist of the game, then Minnesota came back with Derrick Rose hooking home a shot in the lane to re-gain the lead. Trae Young then calmly came back down the floor and proceeded to drive straight to the rim to get the game tied at 118.
With 20 seconds remaining the Hawks had to dig deep for a defensive stand and did just that, stopping a Rose floater thanks to a block by Bembry. The Hawks called timeout and advanced the ball with 0.5 seconds remaining. On the inbounds, Atlanta looked to Young for the final shot which he hit, but only after the buzzer sounded.
At the end of four there was nothing decided between the two teams, so they played an extra five minutes to determine the winner. Collins scored 18 fourth quarter points on 8-of-9 shooting as the Hawks made their comeback, outscoring the Wolves 32-23 in the final frame of regulation.
Atlanta raced out to a seven-point lead in the overtime after Carter hit a three off a Huerter pass and Bembry got to the rim for two big finishes.
After a timeout the Wolves began to claw back in on back to back shots from KAT, but it was (who else) Bembry coming back to stoke the flames with another move in the paint to take the lead to 127-123 and put the game away. Bembry was magnificent in the fourth quarter and overtime and tallied 16 points and 14 rebounds in the game.
Young led the way with another 36-point performance, his second straight, on 9-for-22 shooting and 16-for-17 from the free throw line. He also chipped in ten assists and eight rebounds. Collins was right behind him with 34 points on 13-for-21 shooting to go with eight rebounds of his own. Carter and Bembry rounded out the big-time performers for Atlanta, as they combined for 33 points on just 22 shots from the field.
Wednesday night was a good example of just how exciting this young Hawks team can be. They’ll be back in action on Friday night against the Heat at State Farm Arena.