Atlanta Hawks pull off unbelievable win at home on Wednesday night

Published 7:45 pm Friday, May 15, 2015

This is unbelievable.

That was my first reaction Wednesday night after watching Al Horford grab a rebound and stuck it back in at the buzzer to give the Atlanta Hawks an 82-81 home victory over the Washington Wizards and a 3-2 lead in the best of seven National Basketball Association playoff series.

Just a few seconds before Horford’s winning stick back, the Wizards’ Paul Pierce had given the Wizards an 81-80 lead with a 3-pointer from the far left baseline. The Hawks appeared to be blowing a chance for a potential come-from-behind victory. They scored just one point in their first 14 possessions of the fourth quarter while committing numerous turnovers.

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The Hawks and Wizards have both had key players miss court time during their playoff series because of sickness and injury.

Paul Millsap, who in my opinion is the Hawks’ best outside shooter, missed one game with a severe case of the flu. Former University of Kentucky Wildcat John Wall sat out while recovering from a broken hand. Tuesday was Wall’s first game back, and he was instrumental in the Wizards’ fourth quarter run that fell just short.

Another key to the Hawks’ strong regular season and early playoff run has been the play of guard Jeff Teague. He is very adept at driving through taller players and putting in key shots down the stretch. He is also an outstanding ball handler and passer.

I have been following the Hawks since they moved to Atlanta from St. Louis in the 1960s. Back then they featured players like forwards Lou Hudson, Bill Bridges and big center Walt Belamy. Later, they drafted great ball handling and shooting guard Pistol Pete Maravich, who played for his father Press Maravich with the LSU Tigers.

Then there were the early 1980s when Georgia Bulldogs All American forward Dominique Williams, who is now a Hawks color commentator, played for them. As one of the great leapers in the game, Wilkins nickname was the Human Highlight Film. He and Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan had many great one-on-one confrontations.

The 1980s was also a great era in University of Georgia sports. At the same time Heisman Trophy-winning running back Herschel Walker, who led coach Vince Dooley’s Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season and the 1980 National Championship, was on the Bulldogs football team, Wilkins was on the Bulldogs basketball team.