ATLANTA - Pero Antic saved the day in regulation, and the Atlanta Hawks did just enough in overtime to hold off the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday. Antic hit a desperation 3-pointer to tie the game in the fourth quarter and the Hawks were perfect from the free throw line in the five-minute overtime of a 118-116 victory at Philips Arena.
Antic’s shot was a remarkable one as the 6-11 center hit a fallaway bucket off one foot to even things at 101-101 with three seconds to play in the fourth.
In overtime, Charlotte led 108-106 before Atlanta scored eight straight points from the free throw line, part of a 12-for-12 performance at the line in the extra session, to go up 114-108 with 18 seconds to play.
“I’m just proud of our guys,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, whose team played its third consecutive overtime game. “Our guys found a way to win a game tonight when I don’t think we played that well.”
It was Atlanta’s first game without Al Horford, who is out indefinitely after tearing his pectoral muscle in Cleveland Friday, and Paul Milsap stepped up. Milsap led Atlanta with a game-high 33 points and 13 rebounds, two categories in which Horford is the team leader. Lou Williams added 10 of his 28 points on a perfect 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line in overtime.
Charlotte, which held a lead as large as 14 points, had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Gerald Henderson missed a foul line jumper at the buzzer.
The game was tied three times in the final two minutes of regulation, but Charlotte got a put back by Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker made 1 -of-2 free throws to put the visitors up 99-96 with 18 seconds remaining in the game. Milsap had a bucket for Atlanta, and Walker hit two free throws with 11 seconds on the clock that made it 101-98.
The final play was not designed for Antic, who was 0-of-6 shooting with no points coming into the possession.
“(Antic) was not one of the options, they defended everything extremely well,” Budenholzer said. “That’s one of those things in basketball, sometimes you get a lucky shot.”
Jefferson had a huge game for the Bobcats, with team-highs in points (24) and rebounds (23), and Henderson added 22 points.
Williams had eight points over the final three and a half minutes of the third, which helped Atlanta chip away at a 14-point deficit and pull to within six points heading into the final period.
Williams drained a 3-pointer and hit another jumper, then assisted on Jeff Teague’s three to make it a 75-66 game. Later, Williams was good from behind the arc again, this time with three seconds remaining to cut Charlotte’s lead to 77-71.
The long ball prowess continued in the fourth. Kyle Korver hit his first three of the night, which helped the guard extend his NBA record for consecutive games with a long ball to 99 games, to make it a 79-76 game. The Hawks finally got the lead back at 84-83, its first cushion since midway through the second, on Mike Scott’s three with just over nine minutes left. Scott was excellent off the bench, contributing a season-high 18 points and adding six rebounds in 21 minutes.
“Mike Scott was great, he hit some big shots. It seemed like they were all really timely,” said Budenholzer.
The Hawks struggled shooting the ball during the first half, making just 14-of-40 field goal attempts, and Charlotte went into the halftime locker room up 50-45.
While Atlanta went four and a half minutes without a field goal, the Bobcats used a big run to build the lead. Ben Gordon got it started with a bucket and six different players scored during a 14-1 spurt that gave Charlotte a 45-35 advantage with 4:23 to play in the second.
Charlotte’s biggest lead was 71-57 after Henderson had a basket with 4:08 to play in the third.