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Trae Young had a hard time in the first two games of the playoffs.
Did not really matter.
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With 3rd game at stake and the season hanging, the Atlanta Hawks would have the ball in his hands.
Young delivered and hit a float on the field with 4.4 seconds left, which gave the Hawks a 111-110 victory over top-seeded Miami on Friday night after Atlanta overcame a 16-point deficit in the second half.
The Hawks reduced Heats’ lead to 2-1.
“I was in no doubt,” Young said. “I was able to get to the basket and get my float.”
Jimmy Butler missed a jumper with 12.6 seconds left that could have given the Heat a three-point cushion. The Hawks grabbed the rebound and got the ball in Young’s hands, missing the chance to give timeout.
“I by no means called a timeout there,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We got rebounded down with one with the ball in Trae’s hands. It’s a great chance to get in the transition.”
Miami had one more chance to win it, but Butler again missed on an off-balance 3 by the buzzer with De’Andre Hunter in the face to give the Hawks an outburst of hope in the best-of-seven series.
“The plan was to get free, shoot it and make it,” Butler said. “I did not. I’m doing the next one.”
Match 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta.
PJ Tucker led a 21-0 run in the third quarter, pushing the Heat to an 84-68 lead and apparently on cruise control to a 3-0 lead. But Young and the Hawks would not let them get away.
The Heat also had to deal with an injury to point guard Kyle Lowry, who went out in the third quarter with a hoarding problem and did not return. On Saturday, he will be tested to determine how serious the injury is.
“I love that guy as our point guard,” Butler said. “If he’s with us, yippee ki-yay. If he’s not, someone will step in and do his job. We have enough guys in that room to make up for him.”
After being held to eight points in Miami’s Game 1 blowout and committing the worst 10 turnovers of his career in Game 2, Young looked more like himself at home.
He had 24 points despite another strong defensive effort from the Heat, and turned it around only three times. And of course, Young hit the shot that really mattered in the end.
“He’s the head of the snake,” said teammate Delon Wright.
Bogdan Bogdanovic added 18 points, Hunter 17 and three others scored double figures to take some of the pressure off the star guard.
After a streak of 45 points in Game 3, the best playoff game of his career, Butler was held to 20 in this one and missed an excellent opportunity to put Miami at the forefront of a sweep.
Tyler Herro led the Heat with 24 points and Max Strus also had 20.
The Hawks led by 11 in the first half and were still up 68-63 when Hunter hit a 3-pointer with just under eight minutes left of the third.
That was when Miami suddenly took control of a game that was delayed about 45 minutes after a suspicious package was found outside the State Farm Arena before the game.
The Heat screwed up their stifling defense, slammed shots and silenced a sold-out crowd accustomed to watching the Hawks win at home.
Tucker scored eight points in six minutes, but his best work came at the other end on Young.
The 36-year-old Tucker, who leaned so much on him that Young pushed him away in frustration over an incoming game, used every trick in the book to stifle just the second player in NBA history to lead the league in overall points and assists.
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Tipoff was delayed after the suspicious package was found outside gate 2 of the arena, near a staircase giving access to a MARTA metro station.
Three gates were closed, preventing fans from entering while police, K-9 units and arena security cleared the area and investigated the package.
A bomb squad safely removed the package after it was not explosive, paving the way for the entrances to be opened.
Even with the delay, many fans were still stuck in long queues outside the arena when the match began. But the place jumped at the end of the night.
The Hawks went with just three players off the bench, but all made major contributions.
Bogdanovic made four 3-pointers, Wright had 13 points and Onyeka Okongwu had nine points and six rebounds.
Most tellingly, all three played the entire fourth quarter, forming an effective group with Young.
“When you have more guys who can dribble and play, it definitely makes it a lot easier for me,” Young said.
Heat: Tucker had 11 points. … Butler had almost a triple-double with 10 rebounds and eight assists. … Bam Adebayo had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Hawks: John Collins started again at center instead of the injured Clint Capela, who has yet to play in the series but was not the big factor. Collins struggled again with an injured finger and managed only six points and five rebounds. .
The Hawks have built quite a advantage at home since mid-January and have won 21 of their last 24 games in the ATL. They go after their seventh home win in a row in Game 4.