ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young struggled in the first two games of the playoffs.
Didn’t really matter.
With Game 3 on the line and the season hanging in the balance, the Atlanta Hawks wanted the ball in their hands.
Young delivered, hitting a floater in the lane with 4.4 seconds left that 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 cut the Heat’s series lead to 2-1.
“I didn’t have any doubts,” Young said. “I was able to get to the basket and get my floater.”
Jimmy Butler missed a jumper with 12.6 seconds left that could’ve given the Heat a three-point cushion. The Hawks grabbed the rebound and got the ball in Young’s hands, passing up the chance to call a timeout.
“No way I was calling a timeout there,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “We got the rebound down by one with the ball in Trae’s hands. That’s a great chance to get in transition.”
Miami had one more chance to win it, but Butler missed again on an off-balance 3 at the buzzer with De’Andre Hunter in his face to give the Hawks a burst of hope in the best-of-seven series.
“The plan was get free, shoot it and make it,” Butler said. “I didn’t do it. I’ll make the next one.”
Game 4 is Sunday night in Atlanta.
PJ Tucker led a 21-0 run in the third quarter that pushed the Heat to an 84-68 lead and seemingly on cruise control to a 3-0 lead. But Young and the Hawks would not let them get away.
The Heat also were dealing with an injury to point guard Kyle Lowry, who went out in the third quarter with a hamstring problem and did not return. He’ll undergo tests Saturday to determine the severity of the injury.
“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 for him. We’ve got enough guys in that room to make up for him.”
After being held to eight points in Miami’s Game 1 blowout and committing a career-worst 10 turnovers in Game 2, Young looked more like himself on his home court.
He had 24 points despite another stout defensive effort by the Heat, and turned it over just three times. And, of course, Young hit the shot that really mattered at the end.
“He’s the head of the snake,” teammate Delon Wright said.
Bogdan Bogdanović added 18 points, Hunter 17 and three others scored in double figures to take some of the pressure off the star guard.
Coming off a 45-point effort in Game 3, the best playoff game of his career, Butler was held to 20 in this one and missed a prime opportunity to put Miami on the cusp 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 remaining in the third.
That’s when Miami suddenly took control of a game that was delayed about 45 minutes after a suspicious package was found outside State Farm Arena before the game.
The Heat turned up their stiff defense, knocked down shots and silenced a sellout crowd that was used to see the Hawks win at home.
Tucker scored eight points in the six-minute spree, but his best work came at the other end on Young.
Leaning on him so much that Young shoved him away in frustration on an inbounds play, the 36-year-old Tucker used every trick in the book to stifle just the second player in NBA history to lead the league in total points and assists.
Tipoff was delayed after the suspicious package was found outside Gate 2 of the arena, near a stairwell that provides access to a MARTA subway 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 found not to be explosive, clearing the way for the entrances to be opened.
Even with the delay, many fans were still bogged down in long lines outside the arena when the game began. But the place was hopping at the end of the night.
The Hawks went with just three players off the bench, but all made huge 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’ve got multiple guys who can dribble and make plays, for sure it makes it a lot easier for me,” Young said.
Heat: Tucker had 11 points. … Butler nearly had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and eight assists. … Bam Adebayo had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Hawks: John Collins started again at the center in place of injured Clint Capela, who has yet to play in the series, but wasn’t much of a factor. Struggling again with an injured finger, Collins managed just six points and five rebounds. .
The Hawks have built quite a home-court advantage since mid-January, winning 21 of their last 24 games in the ATL. They’ll go for their seventh straight home win in Game 4.
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