Hawks Survive For Another Day

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — Survival came in the form of a furious 6-foot-10, 245-pound package for the Atlanta Hawks. You might remember him. His name is Al Horford. He’d been missing from the scene for months, stuck on the Hawks’ bench in a suit, courtesy of a torn pectoral muscle that cost the All-Star center all but 11 regular season games.

Horford made up for lost time Tuesday night, though, scoring the final four points and saving the Hawks’ season with a last second defensive stop on Rajon Rondo to preserve his team’s 87-86 win over the Boston Celtics to push this series to a Game 6 Thursday night in Boston.

Rondo’s steal of a Josh Smith inbounds pass intended for Joe Johnson with 9.5 seconds to play was thwarted when Horford closed off all driving lanes on the sideline in front of the Hawks’ bench. Rondo lost his dribble and then flung a pass to Kevin Garnett that Smith batted out of bounds before laying his head on the scorer’s table, knowing full well that Horford had just saved him from being the Hawks’ playoff goat.

In his first full-game action in four months, Horford battled his way to 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assist, three steals and three blocks. It helped the Hawks stave off elimination and provided their fans a glimmer of hope that the home-court advantage Horford’s teammates earned in his absence might still be available for use by the weekend.

Scheduled to play no more than 25 minutes, the Hawks needed Horford for 41 in what turned out to be the defining game of their season.

“Al Horford was absolutely huge tonight,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “His ability to move around at times when we were forced to make switches on defense, and his foot speed enabled him to stay with the ball. Offensively, he gives us a presence down there, and he made some big shots for us tonight. I didn’t want to bring him back that early in the fourth, but it was a close game and you could feel the momentum shifting. He was a superman for us down the stretch.”

The Superman title, at least on this night and in this particular situation, seems appropriate. And since Orlando Magic center and resident Superman Dwight Howard isn’t using it right now, why not?

Horford’s late-game heroics weren’t available for the Hawks before he returned to action in that blowout Game 4 loss in Boston. He was ruled out of this series two days before it began.

Now he’s the reason the Hawks are still playing … down 3-2 and still facing elimination, but still playing.

“I was tired a little bit, but right now I feel  fine,” Horford said afterwards. “Maybe it’s the adrenaline from the game and [today] it will be a different story, but right now I’m fine. At the end of the third quarter I asked coach if he could sit me down for four or five minutes so I can come back and leave it all out there. But I had to go back in earlier than that. I was picking my spots on when to be aggressive out there. I didn’t want to lose the series that way, so I didn’t want to let (Rajon) Rondo shoot a jumper over me.

“You’re fighting for your life out there. I wanted to bring energy to the team tonight. We needed to win this game.”


  1. ST11 says:

    if it’s coming down to Bos vs Mia for ECF, then Rondo will be the key for this series… but I think this year champs is someone else in the west (OKC or Spurs)

  2. WHAT A JOKE says:

    No championship for the green ugly celtics this year

  3. Law064 says:

    This series will be over tonight Atlanta really dodged elimination in game 5. The Celtic’s have the best chance at beating Miami IF Indiana don’t beat them. The Bulls without Rose has been lacking so they might be going home like ATL tonight. I have a feeling that it will come down to Boston & Miami in the ECF.

  4. ITS OVER says:

    Celtics aint goin nowhere, rondo is a non factor and their best scorer, paul pierce averages 20 points on 42% shooting. KG and ray allen are just role players at this stage of their careers, every one else on the team are bench players, they got a good coach but team really lacks offensive firepower.

    • hluna says:

      Rondo A non factor? a triple double night for him is routine! pierce turns it on at the drop of a hat and nobody can contain him. KG and Allen r still kicking @$$…C’s r a well rounded team, everybody contributes and on any given night you never know who’s gonna jump out….they will beat the hawks 2night.

  5. Nich says:

    Three big things to note:

    1) Boston sports Fans are arrogant as they come. Second only to New York sports fans.

    2) With Al Horford back, (and ZaZa Pachulia) this series changes dramatically. We’ve been missing 3 of the guys who make up our 10 man rotation much of this series. Having everyone healthy will give Boston trouble.

    3) Atlanta winning will not be an upset. Who was the top seed? and who has more depth? Our coaching is the only real disadvantage we have in this series. I have mad respect for Doc Rivers.

    All three of these points will play a part in the result tomorrow as well as the reactions I’ll be reading in another [well written] hangtime blog post

  6. I don’t think they will win game 6 in boston, it’s over.

  7. karoLT says:

    i believe in my HAWKS… Josh Smith & Al Horford should dominate the paint come game 6, Joe Johnson should be the player the HAWKS paid him to do i.e close out games…
    & game 7 at the Highlight Factory we are gonna prove all the doubters wrong…
    Lets Go HAWKS

  8. Chris Brown says:

    This is funny, anyone else noticed Lakers and Celtics were expected to win with the 3-1 lead and loss unexpectedly. I have a very strong feeling they’ll meet in the finals. Well we all have different opinions. Anyway goddluck LA and Boston!

  9. W/E says:

    What are u green gollums talking about, there is no #18 the celtics cant compete against the Heat or the beasts of Western conference, the Hawks are a mediocre team full of bench players… the celtics are completely delusional if they think they got any chance against a good team deep in the playoffs..( Heat,Lakers,OKC,spurs)

    • C934 says:

      wondering did u think we didnt have a chance when we went 7 games with just about every team in the playoffs in 2008.. ironically the first team was the hawks, and they were even more of a mediocre team then..

      • Snap says:

        in 2008 boston was 4 years younger

      • beantownallday says:

        we bat the heat 3 outta 4 times this year and SMASHED them ion their own building where the refs will call a foul if u breath on dbag lebron or punk chalmers. cmon dude be real

  10. BIg al is back!!! says:

    hawks got threw the whole series with al out, nd finished with the 4th best record in the eastern conference. no with al back, this is a total different series Aha.

  11. PC says:

    It’ll be a tight game 6. A real close game. Boston probably will win series with the defense they are known for. But Atlanta can still catch fire offensively just like that while Boston is supposed to be consistent offensively.

    And Boston will not win # 18. Not bashing on them but it’s sorta true, Miami will most likely shut them down. Even if Boston takes Miami home and wins, can they beat the Spurs or Thunder? That’s the excitement of playoffs; it’s so unexpected..!! I am pumped to see how the rest of the playoffs lay itself out.

    • steagle says:

      They can beat the Spurs. Rondo and Parker kind of cancel each other out, KG and Duncan cancel each other out, but no one on SA can really cancel out Pierce. He would be the wild card in the series, for sure. San Antonio certainly had the superior year (probably because they only had one moderate injury to deal with, compared to multiple season-ending injuries to Boston) but the playoffs is a different story. It’s where superstars are born and legends are made. Both are winning franchises with relatively recent championships. It would be a fantastic matchup, and I really don’t think it would lean heavily in San Antonio’s favor at all.

      Now OKC… that is a different story 😛

  12. mc says:

    I have faith in the hawks. They always do the unpredictable you just never know what they’ll do in a game. I’m pretty sure the celtics will win but again you just never know with these hawks. One thing though their coach Larry Drew makes some bad subs at bad times he loses games for them.

  13. George says:

    Boston got this!..
    Watch tomorrow how they blow the hawks by 20!!!!!!

  14. ray says:

    to bad. caus the celtics can use all rest possible…
    hopefully this doesnt go all the way to game 7 before the hawks lose.
    I mean, that team has no future they should just quit!
    signing a mediaocre player a 100 million contract proves that the hawks are as dumb as mcgee lol

    a pacers fan

  15. Corey says:

    Go Hawks! Boston is a great team, but I haven’t given up hope yet. It was nice watching Big Al back in action.

  16. BOSTON !! says:

    boston will win! they need to play harder and defend better.. #18 babyyyy

  17. darko says:

    Keep believing in HAWKS We must win game 6 and go for game 7 at home

  18. vamos a la playa says:

    boston defense was terrible last night on horford and josh smith and the hawks deserved the win 100%.
    i’m glad that horford is back, he knows how to play …

  19. Boston Nation says:

    That was a lucky game for the hawks. Plus, i would rather us win it in Boston, Not Atlanta….Who has 17 championships? ITS ALL ABOUT 18

  20. Domination Republic says:

    There you go Big Al! One game at a time, go Hawks!