Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer from 25-feet away with 1.9 seconds left in overtime to lift the Hawks to a 101-100 win over Washington on Wednesday at Philips Arena.
But it was close, as in a fingertip close.
On its last possession, Washington’s Kevin Seraphin airballed a hook shot as the Wizards tried to pull out their first victory of the year. Martell Webster alertly came under the basket and tipped the ball up and in as the game clock expired. The Wizards ran back to their bench, sure the shot would be counted. The Hawks weren’t sure. The officials weren’t sure. After a review, they ruled “no basket,” sending the crowd into a frenzy.
It was the Hawks’ (6-4) third consecutive win and ensured that the Wizards (0-10) remained the NBA’s only winless team. Atlanta will play at Charlotte on Friday.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 25 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 1:33 left in overtime. Al Horford just missed his first career triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Seraphin led the Wizards with 21 points.
“Somehow, someway we found a way to win and that’s what good teams do,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “They feel they are never out, they feel like they can execute down the stretch, they feel like they can get stops down the stretch. We did that.”
Drew smiled and said he’ll take credit when asked if the play that led to Korver’s shot was executed like it was supposed to be.
“I was telling myself, ‘Don’t leave another one on the front of the rim,’” said Korver, who finished with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting, all 3-point attempts. “It was just a good game for our team. It was a gut-check game. We could have lost that game three or four times.”
After seeing an 11-point lead disappear in the second half, the Hawks forced overtime on two Devin Harris free throws that tied the game at 90 with 3.7 seconds left. The play was designed for him to take the ball and turn the corner.
“He did a great job drawing the foul,” Drew said, who praised the team’s play after timeouts.
Smith started a wild up-and-down few minutes for him in overtime with a basket to give the Hawks a quick lead. But AJ Price completed a three-point play and Smith shot an airball. Chris Singleton hit a jumper to push the Wizards’ lead to 95-92.
Smith hit a layup to cut the Hawks’ deficit to 95-94 before Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer in the corner to give the Wizards a 98-94 lead.
Trying for an offensive rebound, Smith fouled out on the next possession.
Horford followed by missing two free throws but the Hawks got the rebound and Teague hit a short jumper to cut the Hawks’ gap to 98-96. The defense then forced the Wizards into a bad shot, which bounced out of bounds, giving the Hawks possession with 31.3 seconds left.
Horford was again fouled and again missed both free throws – making nine misses in 10 attempts – but the Wizards weren’t able to control the rebound with 20.4 seconds left.
Knowing that Horford was struggling at the line, Drew nevertheless drew up an inbounds play that called for Horford to get the ball near the basket, risking him going to the line again. The pass was clean and Horford powered it in – without a foul — to the game at 98 with 19.5 seconds left.
Drew said he wanted to show Horford that he trusted him. Horford, a 66.7-percent free-throw shooter coming into the game, said he appreciated his coach’s sentiment and that he was going to work on his shooting.
“That’s the first time in a game that that’s really happened to me,” he said. “But the most important thing to me was that we won.”
It was a game the Hawks seemed to have in hand after Smith started with nine points in the first quarter.
“He really set the tone,” Drew said.
But the Wizards kept rallying, partly because the Hawks weren’t running the fast-break well and partly because the Wizards were tenacious.
The Hawks took an 86-85 lead on a 3-pointer by Devin Harris, answering one hit by Chris Singleton on Washington’s previous possession.
Seraphin gave the Wizards a 87-86 lead with a jumper from the free-throw line with 4:11 left.
Smith tried an off-balance jumper that missed, but the Wizards knocked the ball out of bounds. He then tried an across-court pass that was stolen, but he got back to disrupt the shot and then drew a charge after Washington got the rebound.
The Hawks forced a shot-clock violation and called a timeout with 2:03 left.
The play quickly dissolved after Nene, playing for the first time this season for the Wizards after being sidelined by a foot injury, stole the ball from Smith, leading to a layup on the other end that gave the Wizards a 89-86 lead.
Trying to back down Nene in the post, Smith was called for an offensive foul. The Wizards failed to score, and Teague cut the Hawks’ deficit to one, 89-88, with a layup with 54.5 seconds left.
The teams traded misses, forcing the Hawks to foul. The strategy worked when Nene missed one of two free throws with 10.3 seconds left. Smith grabbed the rebound and the Hawks called a timeout with 9.6 seconds left and trailing 90-88.
The Wizards, with a foul to give, used it with 5.4 seconds left. The Hawks inbounded the ball to Harris, who was fouled as he drove across the lane by Nene with 3.7 seconds left to set up the overtime.
“This was really a gutsy win by our group,” Drew said. “Coming into this game this morning, I did not have a really good feeling about it because I really believe in my head that watching this Wizards team play that they are really better than their record indicates.”
Former Hawk Dan Roundfield was honored at halftime. Members of his family were in attendance as the team presented them with a large painting of Roundfield, who played for the team from 1978-84 and was a three-time All-Star. He averaged 15.2 points in his career, which included stops in Indiana, Detroit and Washington. He drowned off the coast of Aruba in August while trying to help his wife, Bernie. He was 59 years old.
– Doug Roberson, AJC