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Bufkin hits game-winner as Hawks overcome Sixers in Summer League victory

The Hawks move to 3-1 on the summer with one left to play.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks overturned an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to rally to a 99-98 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in their fourth game of Summer League on Thursday afternoon.

Seth Lundy led the Hawks in scoring with 16 points with Kobe Bufkin adding 14 points. For the Sixers, Jaden Springer scored 29 points while Terquavion Smith added 20 points.

The level of play in this contest was...not amazing, and the Hawks — despite their superior three-point shooting — found themselves behind for much of this contest. Their defense at the rim in particular wasn’t great. Even in the fourth quarter, things were looking dicey for the Hawks, with not many players were having especially strong games through the first three quarters — perhaps to be expected on the second day of an early back-to-back.

Tyrese Martin’s heroics from the Wolves game weren’t repeated, and while he didn’t play poorly he finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Vit Krejci tallied another five assists, but his offense continued to look a little underwhelming at this level.

The supporting cast for the Hawks ended with solid box scores, with Brady Manek finishing with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go with six rebounds and Miles Norris adding 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Mouhamed Gueye again produced some solid plays but was a little underwhelming defensively — despite an important block at the end of the game — finishing with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and eight rebounds.

The big stories from this game however were the play of the Seth Lundy and Kobe Bufkin.

Starting with Lundy, he led the team in scoring with 16 points and did this with his perimeter shooting. That marksmanship continues to be strong in Summer League, shooting 4-of-11 from three on Thursday. Like his other games so far, Lundy isn’t shy about getting shots up nor pulling up from deep. This is something he has spoken about: he knows what his bread and butter is and knows what it is he needs to show the Hawks, and it’s about getting up those threes — and he’s doing that at a strong percentage.

Bufkin’s game-tale is one of redemption.

It was looking like another difficult game for Bufkin. Through three quarters he shot 1-of-6 from the field for just three points and had five turnovers on the game. Then slowly but surely he found his footing in the game. It wasn’t quite the takeover that Martin had where it was consecutive bucket after bucket, but Bufkin kept chipping away and when the game became close down the stretch, and he found another level that had been missing from the game in the first three quarters and hit multiple go-ahead baskets:

This of course included the game-winner, as he used a screen to get inside the paint and hits a difficult shot off glass, displaying some hang-time on the shot too to give the Hawks a one point lead. This one they would hold on to in part thanks to some defense from Bufkin to contest the final shot:

Hawks Summer League coach Antonio Lang praised Bufkin for how he played, as well as the manner in which he played:

11 of Bufkin’s 14 points came in the final quarter as he shot 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line.

Bufkin’s shooting came together late in this one after a shaky three quarters, but what was consistent throughout the game was Bufkin’s solid passing, finishing with seven assists. The pick of the bunch was this late-game bounce-pass delivery to Mouhamed Gueye:

Better late than never for Bufkin to recover in this game and he came through when it counted. I think overall it has been a challenging Summer League for Bufkin, but ending it the right way would give him and the Hawks optimism for his development over the summer. In many ways, this game was the reverse of the Wolves game where he started off well and tailed off noticeably. With the narrative flipped this time, it makes for a much more positive spin on affairs and credit to Bufkin for turning the narrative of a pretty rough first three quarters offensively.

A painful game for the eyes — the Hawks’ 23 fouls leading to 34 Philadelphia free throws attests to that (as well as countless reviews and techs) — but a strong note for the Hawks as they begin to wind down their Summer League journey as they will not make the tournament phase of Summer League.

The Hawks (3-1) will be in action on one more occasion to round out their Vegas trip in a yet to be determined fixture following the conclusion of Thursday night’s games.

Whoever it may be, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it’s another game for the likes of Bufkin, Lundy and Gueye to finish on a strong note ahead of an uncertain summer for many of those on the roster.

Until next time...