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Hawks 118, Bobcats 116 (OT)

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Charlotte Bobcats waste advantage over Atlanta Hawks, fall 118-116 in OT

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/28/22/58/16YJfZ.Em.138.jpeg|218
    Dave Tulis - AP
    Charlotte Bobcats' Anthony Tolliver (43) falls to the ground and clenches his fists as time runs out in overtime against the Atlanta Hawks, his former team. The Hawks won Saturday'gs game 118-116 in Atlanta.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/28/22/18/1bAvg5.Em.138.jpeg|354
    Dave Tulis - AP
    Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) grabs the rebound in front of Atlanta Hawks' Paul Millsap (4) and Pero Antic (6) in the first half of their NBA basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

ATLANTA Sometimes Macedonia happens.

That’s really the only way to describe the bizarre way the Atlanta Hawks rescued the end of regulation to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 118-116 in overtime Saturday night at Philips Arena.

It looked like the Bobcats (14-17) would finally break a nine-game losing streak to this team, would finally win a game within the Southeast Division this season. They led by as many as 14 and by three in the last 11 seconds before Hawks center and Macedonia native Pero Antic hit an off-balance 3-pointer with three seconds left.

The Bobcats were naturally concerned with Kyle Korver, who has now made a 3-pointer in each of his last 99 games for the Hawks. The Bobcats doubled and switched throughout that last defensive possession, shadowing Korver everywhere.

“You couldn’t play any better defense than we did on that play. We did it exactly right,” said Bobcats forward Anthony Tolliver. “When (Korver) made that pass, I thought, ‘Thank God!’ and then that happens.”

“That” was a one-legged heave from the corner that swished. Antic had taken five previous 3s in this game, missing them all.

“Part of the game, I guess,” said Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds. “That hurt us, though.”

Jefferson’s audible sigh at the end of that sentence summed up the whole locker room post-game. As Jefferson observed, “That’s a game we should have won.”

No doubting that. They led 71-57 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter, only to waste all of that advantage. As unlikely as Antic’s game-saver was, that didn’t let the Bobcats off the hook in the mind of their coach.

“They hit a shot off one foot that was a muddled play. That’s unlucky,” Clifford said. “But on the previous two (defensive) possessions we had chances to get back and get a stop and didn’t.

“We have to get past the point where everybody is happy the Bobcats don’t get beaten every night. We’re better than that.”

That will be tested over the next week as the Bobcats go on their first extended West Coast trip. They will be in Utah Monday night, followed by road games with the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

To win some of those games, they’ll need much better shooting nights than what point guard Kemba Walker delivered Saturday. He ended the game 4 of 20 from the field.

That was hard to overcome on a night when no Bobcats forward could contain the Hawks’ Paul Millsap, who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds.

The odd thing about overtime was how little the ball found Jefferson. He took one shot, a make, while Walker was 1 of 5 in the extra five minutes.

Jefferson attributed that to how aggressively the Hawks double-teamed him late.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell
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