Potamanya.com – Trae Young scored 39 points as the Atlanta Hawks made a stunning comeback in the second half to beat the first-seeded Philadelphia 76ers 109-106 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday. With the home crowd roaring, the Sixers looked like they were poised to take a 3-2 advantage in a best-of-seven series after taking a 26-point lead early in the second half. But a brilliant Atlanta offensive led by Young kept the Hawks constantly closing the gap.
Young’s 18-yard pull-up cut Philadelphia down to four points in the 104-100 with less than three minutes to go. Young then drew a foul to make a floater 104-102 and fouled to win three free throws and immediately vacated to give the Hawks the first lead of the game at 105-104 with 1 minute 26 seconds left. Danilo Gallinari’s disgrace put Atlanta 107-104 ahead and the Sixers’ fate was decided when Joel Embiid missed two late free throws that could have put Philadelphia back within striking distance.
Sixers stunned as Young Hawks lead comeback
Instead, Atlanta took possession and two more free throws from Young gave the Hawks the lead to secure the game. The win means the Hawks could secure a series of victories in front of their home fans on Friday, when game six returns to Georgia. “We kept fighting,” Young later said. “We trust each other. We are a great group, nice to be around. “We are all on each other’s side and this is seen on the field as well, and we never stopped believing until the last bell.”
That belief has put the fifth-seeded Hawks on the brink of a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, a remarkable turnaround for a team that undermined head coach Lloyd Pierce on March 1. Under interim coach Nate McMillan, the Hawks rose through the ranks to secure a playoff position, and Young blossomed with the support of the Atlanta guard. “It’s great to have a coach who trusts me,” Young said on Wednesday. “I still have a lot to learn to get better.
But I feel like we’re in a good place right now and we have to keep winning and believing in each other.” John Collins added 19 points, Gallinari 16 and Lou Williams added 15. Embiid with 37 points in Philadelphia, who only collected 38 points in the first quarter, and Seth Curry contributed to the victory with 36 points. No other Philadelphia player hit double digits.