NBA: Mavericks playoff hopes fading after Hawks win thriller
LOS ANGELES – The Atlanta Hawks overcame a 41-point display from Kyrie Irving to leave the Dallas Mavericks on the brink of elimination from playoff contention on Sunday as the New York Knicks sealed their place in the NBA postseason with victory over the Washington Wizards.
A thrilling duel in Atlanta saw the Hawks squeeze home 132-130 in overtime after Irving gave up a costly foul with 1.8 seconds remaining to hand two game-winning free throws to Trae Young.
It was the final act of a nail-biting encounter which saw Irving lead Dallas back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game after a wild ending to regulation where momentum swung back and forth in the closing seconds.
Irving looked to have thrown Dallas a lifeline with a superb driving reverse layup followed by a jump shot to level the score at 121-121 with 37.5 seconds remaining.
Atlanta then edged clear once more with a Saddiq Bey tip-in to make it 123-121.
Clint Capela though fouled Christian Wood to hand Dallas two free throws and a chance to tie the game with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Wood missed the second of his shots from the foul line and Atlanta appeared to have survived.
Yet with just 0.4 seconds on the clock Capela gave away another costly foul to hand Dallas the chance to snatch victory.
But Javale McGee could only make one of his two free throws, sending the game to overtime.
Again Irving appeared to have rescued Dallas, making another reverse layup to tie it at 130-130 with less than 30 seconds of overtime remaining.
But Irving’s heroics were in vain as he bundled over Young to give the Atlanta playmaker the chance to win the game that he converted.
Young finished with 24 points and 12 assists while Dejounte Murray led the Hawks scoring with 25 points. Seven Atlanta players finished in double figures.
The victory left Atlanta on course for a place in the play-in tournament with four games of the regular season remaining.
The Hawks are eighth in the East with a 39-39 record.
But Dallas’s hopes are fading fast after another costly defeat.
The Mavericks are 11th in the Western Conference, trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder, who occupy the 10th and last of the play-in places.