Without Horford, Hawks beat Bobcats in OT

Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- With their best all-around player lost indefinitely with an injury, the Atlanta Hawks looked to their bench for solutions on Saturday. They found them in guard Lou Williams and center Pero Antic.
Williams scored a season-high 28 points and was 10-for-10 from the line in overtime to lift the Atlanta Hawks to a 118-116 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Antic forced the extra period with a one-legged 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining, his only basket of the game.
The win came on the heels of the news that center Al Horford, who was averaging a team-leading 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, might miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
"It's going to take some time to learn to play without Al," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We have to get everybody comfortable, to keep the ball moving, to know where the spots are."
Atlanta (17-13) got 33 points and 13 rebounds from forward Paul Millsap and 20 points and nine assists from guard Jeff Teague to overcome a 14-point second-half deficit. The Hawks, who played three straight games in overtime, beat the Bobcats for the 10th consecutive time.
"Our guys found a way to win the game," Budenholzer said. "We didn't play that well. I feel fortunate, but I'm also proud of the effort."
Charlotte (14-17) was led by forward Al Jefferson, who had 24 points and 23 rebounds, his fifth double-double in six games. Guard Gerald Henderson scored 22 and guard Kemba Walker scored 16, all in the second half.
"We had a chance to win but didn't make the plays," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "We have to get past the point where everybody's happy with the fact that the Bobcats aren't getting beat every night, because we're better than this."
Millsap helped set the pace with 12 points, with eight of them coming in the paint, in the first quarter. The Hawks never trailed and led 25-22 after the first period, as Jefferson kept the Bobcats in the game with nine points.
The momentum changed midway through the second period when the Bobcats began to exploit some of Atlanta's problems in the middle. Charlotte used a 17-3 run over a five-minute stretch that enabled it to turn a 32-28 deficit into a 45-35 lead with 4:22 left in the half. Atlanta trimmed the lead to 50-45 at halftime when Millsap returned and scored five points in the closing two minutes.
"Paul had one of those nights," Budenholzer said. "He found a rhythm and started attacking the rim. I thought he was very good tonight."
Charlotte stretched its lead to 71-57 when Henderson made a 20-footer with 4:07 left in the third quarter. Henderson had 12 points in the quarter. Atlanta began to rally behind Teague -- who had 10 in the period, including two of the team's four 3-pointers -- as the Hawks cut the lead to 77-71 at the end of three.
"We came out with a lot of energy in the third quarter and built a nice little cushion," Jefferson said. "But it's the NBA and you know teams are going to make their run."
The Hawks tied the game at 94 when guard Mike Scott nailed a 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining. The teams traded buckets until Jefferson scored on a putback to give the Bobcats a 98-96 lead, which they extended to 101-98 with 11.8 seconds remaining. But Antic sent the game to overtime with a one-legged 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining.
"That was not one of the options," Budenholzer said. "They defended everything extremely well. Credit to them. That's just one of those things in basketball ... sometimes you get a lucky bounce and you hit a lucky shot."
Atlanta forward Mike Scott said, "People don't know but Pero practices that shot all the time. I just couldn't believe he did that. It was a crazy shot. It should be on the top 10."
NOTES: Atlanta G Kyle Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-point basket to 99 when he converted his fourth attempt with 10:51 left in the game. Korver picked up his 2,000th career rebound in the first quarter. ... Atlanta C Al Horford could miss the rest of the season with a torn right pectoral muscle. He suffered the injury Wednesday in an overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Horford had a similar injury to his left pectoral in 2011 and missed all but 11 games, but he was able to return for the playoffs. Horford is averaging 18.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks. ... G John Jenkins remains out with nerve pain in his left leg. Jenkins has been dealing with the back-related issue since the summer. ... Charlotte F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had the cast removed from his broken left hand, but he has not been cleared to return to practice. The Bobcats remain without C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) and G Jeff Taylor (ruptured right Achilles tendon). ... Atlanta plays four of its next five games on the road, starting Sunday in Orlando. Charlotte plays its next four on the road on a West Coast swing that begins Monday in Utah.

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