Trae Young scored a playoff career-high 39 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 26-point, second-half deficit to stun the host Philadelphia 76ers 109-106 on Wednesday night, taking a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
The Hawks trailed by 18 points entering the fourth quarter before outscoring the 76ers 40-19 in the final period. Atlanta never led until Young made three free throws with 1:26 to go for a 105-104 advantage.
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John Collins added 19 points and 11 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari contributed 16 points and Lou Williams had 15 off the bench for the Hawks.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots but missed two crucial free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining with the Sixers trailing 107-104.
Sixers guard Seth Curry produced a playoff-career-high 36 points, including seven three-pointers. Embiid and Curry were the only two Philadelphia players to make a field goal in the entirety of the second half.
Ben Simmons (8 points) continued to struggle to hit free throws, going 4 of 14 as the Hawks fouled the Australian point forward intentionally. He is currently shooting 33 per cent from the line so far this series and has missed 45 free throws in total during the playoffs.
When Curry dropped in his third three-pointer, the Sixers led 51-31 with 5:25 left in the second quarter. Embiid soon connected on a tough turnaround jumper from the corner for a 58-34 lead with 2:07 left.
The Hawks struggled early with their half-court offensive execution thanks in large part to suffocating defense by the Sixers.
Young led the Hawks with 14 first-half points, but Atlanta trailed 62-40 at halftime. They shot just 13 of 42 (31 percent) before the break to the 76ers’ 23 of 43 (53.3 percent).
Embiid knocked down his first eight shots and had 24 points and 10 rebounds through the opening two quarters. It was a major improvement off the back of Game 4, when Embiid went 0-for-12 in the second half.
But Atlanta scored four quick points to open the third before the Sixers responded with an 8-0 run for a 70-44 advantage – tied for their largest lead of the game.
Philadelphia led by 25 with just over three minutes left to play in the penultimate quarter but then gave up 51 points over the final fifteen minutes as the Hawks surged back into the game. Astonishingly the Sixers made no field goals in the final 6 minutes and 25 seconds.
As Doc Rivers’ offense stagnated, Collins banked in a 3-pointer with 5:25 to go as the Hawks cut the deficit to 100-92.
Young was then fouled by Matisse Thybulle on a three-point try with 86 seconds left and made all three free throws to put Atlanta ahead by one. Gallinari hit a tough contested jumper on the Hawks’ next possession for a 107-104 lead to complete a 13-0 run.
“We’ll get back up. I mean, we’ll be back here for Game 7. I believe that…This is part of sports,” Rivers said after the game.
“You have some awful moments in it. There is no guaranteed path to getting to your goal. We have made this hard on ourselves. We have to own up to that, all of us.”
Game 6 in the best-of-seven series will be played on Friday night at Atlanta.
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