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Undermanned Hawks secure tiebreaker with 118-103 win over Heat

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Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks entered Friday night’s tilt as betting underdogs against the Miami Heat. With Trae Young and Clint Capela joining the team’s jam-packed list of injury absences, interim head coach Nate McMillan and company had a tough task on paper against an opponent at nearly full strength, but the Hawks put together a spectacularly resilient effort. Atlanta pulled away late to win by a final score of 118-103 and, in the process, the Hawks secured the playoff tiebreaker against Miami by winning the three-game season series.

While the Hawks scored the first five points of the game, it was the Heat that took early control, at least to a mild extent. Miami put together a 12-2 run to claim the lead and, even as Atlanta started red-hot with 9-of-13 shooting, the Heat held the edge.

Atlanta took the lead in the final minute of the first quarter, though, and held a 31-30 advantage after 12 minutes. That came as a result of 62 percent shooting, and Bogdan Bogdanovic had it going with eight points and four assists.

Both teams stayed hot offensively to begin the second quarter, and the Hawks welcomed Danilo Gallinari back from a six-game absence with seven points in his first minutes of action.

Atlanta led by as many as seven points at 54-47 but, after a bit of a late-quarter swoon that featured seven straight points from the Heat, the Hawks needed a mini-run at the end of the half to take a 62-61 lead into halftime.

Overall, the Hawks shot the ball brilliantly, but turned the ball over nine times. It was a similar story for the Heat, with 62 percent shooting and nine turnovers of their own. Atlanta was balanced offensively as well, with all nine players scoring at least four points before halftime. John Collins led the way with 11 first-half points.

The second half started in less than optimal fashion for the home team, as the Heat scored the first eight points to grab a quick seven-point lead. From there, though, Atlanta made quite an extended run, reversing course and putting themselves in a fantastic position.

Bogdanovic started things with a tough three-pointer.

Huerter and Gallinari got into the act as well, with Gallinari eventually hitting two threes later in the quarter to give the Hawks an 85-80 lead. Then, it was Brandon Goodwin time, with the Norcross High School product scoring eight points in the final 90 seconds of the third quarter.

That gave Atlanta a six-point lead as the fourth quarter arrived, and the team’s bench wasn’t done. Goodwin produced a tip-in early in the closing period to push the lead to nine and, on cue, Lou Williams scored five straight to pad the advantage.

Atlanta led by double-digits for nearly the rest of the game, eventually putting Miami away with key stops and timely buckets. The Hawks finished the night with a 15-point cushion on the scoreboard, and it was a highly impressive offensive performance from an undermanned team.

The home team shot 54 percent from the floor, 43 percent from three-point range and 89.5 percent from the free throw line in the game, scoring well over 1.2 points per possession in the process. Atlanta had six players in double figures, using a balanced approach that included 51 points off the bench.

Bogdanovic was the leading scorer with 21 points and he also produced a team-high eight assists. Collins contributed 20 points and eight rebounds, with Goodwin (17 points), Gallinari (17 points) and Williams (13 points) providing a considerable punch in reserve duty.

The Hawks will remain in Atlanta following this game, with the Milwaukee Bucks set to visit State Farm Arena on Sunday night.

Stay tuned.