NBA: Hawks swoop in overtime for victory over Raptors

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (left) dumps water on forward A.J. Griffin after an overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA – Trae Young scored 33 points and lofted a mid-court pass for rookie A. J. Griffin to “sneak up behind” the Toronto Raptors defence for the game-winning lay-up at the buzzer.

That gave the Atlanta Hawks a 124-122 National Basketball Association (NBA) overtime victory over the visitors on Saturday.

Young had 12 assists for the Hawks, who shook off a loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and avenged their defeat by the Raptors in October.

“We just get playing, kept fighting,” he said. “It’s a long game. They went on runs. We went on runs.

“It’s a long game, so you can’t stop at any time... We knew we had a chance to get back in the game. We just kept playing.”

Despite a slew of injury absences, Toronto led 109-101 with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter at the State Farm Arena.

The Hawks responded with a 10-0 run to take a two-point lead with less than a minute remaining, and Raptors guard Scottie Barnes missed a put-back attempt at the buzzer that would have won it.

Griffin played 30 minutes off the bench and scored eight of his 17 points in overtime, with his late winner helping secure the win.

A dunk by O.G. Anunoby had tied the scores at 122-122 with 3.8sec left. On the ensuing inbounds, Young got the ball at half court and fired an arching pass to Griffin under the basket for a wide-open winner.

“He plays with a lot of poise and made some big shots tonight,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said of the 19-year-old.

A beaming Griffin said of Young’s pass: “He saw the ending. I was in the right place at the right time. I had a feeling they were going to pressure up. I saw it and broke early. I said, ‘I’ll just sneak up behind them’. That’s exactly what happened.”

He was delighted with the celebratory ice-water dousing he got from his teammates after the win.

The Hawks were also backed up by 22 points from De’Andre Hunter, 18 points and 14 rebounds from Clint Capela and 17 points from Dejounte Murray.

Barnes scored a season-high 28 points. He also matched his season’s best with 11 rebounds. Anunoby scored 27 points, Thaddeus Young scored 18 points with nine rebounds and reserve Malachi Flynn added 17.

“It’s a little hard, but it’s nothing we can’t withstand,” Raptors’ Thaddeus Young said of the loss.

“We were short-handed, but we still had a chance to win the game. We just have to make sure we execute down the stretch.”

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving made yet another apology for his social media posts that promoted a movie featuring anti-Semitic themes. According to a report by ESPN, he could suit up for the Brooklyn Nets on Monday when they host the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Irving was suspended by the Nets on Nov 3 over his conduct on social media and has missed Brooklyn’s last eight games.

“I’m not anti-Semitic,” he said in an interview with SportsNet New York. “I never have been. I don’t have hate in my heart for the Jewish people or anyone that identifies as a Jew. I’m not anti-Jewish or any of that.”

It came down to the wire in Philadelphia, where the Minnesota Timberwolves turned back a late charge from the 76ers for a 112-109 victory at the Wells Fargo Centre.

The Timberwolves led by as many as 17 in the third quarter and by 13 going into the final frame. But the short-handed 76ers, fuelled by 32 points from Joel Embiid and 27 from Shake Milton, trimmed the deficit to one point on De’Anthony Melton’s three-pointer with 29.1 seconds remaining.

Melton then came up with a steal from Anthony Edwards but missed a driving lay-up and Edwards – who led Minnesota with 25 points – pushed the lead back to three with a pair of free-throws.

The 76ers were without star guard James Harden for a seventh game because of a foot injury. Tobias Harris was again absent with a sore hip and Tyrese Maxey missed his first game since suffering a left foot fracture on Friday.

They got another scare late in the fourth when Embiid tripped over teammate Georges Niang and hit the court, appearing to turn an ankle. He stayed in the game but seemed limited and fell one more time.


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