On a night where the Hawks were really struggling to find baskets, Al Horford came through with a big night. The cornerstone of the Hawks franchise for the last eight years scored 23 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Horford has struggled with his jump shot for most of the postseason but showed signs in recent games of him getting back in the groove. On Wednesday, Horford was pinpoint with his midrange game and aggressive on the boards. He also played spectacular defense, blocking 5 shots and coming up with a huge steal that led to a fast break bucket to put the Hawks up 2 with 14 seconds remaining. It looked like Al’s masterful night was all going to waste when Paul Peirce followed that bucket with a corner three of his own to put the Wizards up one with 8 seconds remaining. But when the Hawks needed Al most, he was able to come through. The ball was inbounded to Schröder, and he attacked the basket but was unable to finish. Al Horford grabbed the rebound and laid it in with 1.9 seconds remaining. The Wizards were left with no time outs and had to settle for a half court desperation shot that missed badly.
As a Hawks fan, there was not much to be happy about in Game 5. The offense was miserable. The Hawks turned the ball over 23 times and only had 21 assists. It was only the third time all season, that the Hawks had more turnovers in a game than assists. However, something had to keep them in the game while their offense struggled. The Hawks played spectacular defense. As a team, the Hawks forced 19 turnovers, had 11 steals, and blocked 13 shots. Some playoff games are going to be ugly, and the Hawks found a way to grind out an ugly one Wednesday. Hopefully, they can use the momentum from this huge win to close this series out Friday night in Washington.
You can tell it was a tough offensive night when a player who only played 15 minutes is a star of the night. Muscala came into the game in the second quarter and scored the first eight points of the quarter. He looked active on defense and on the boards. He finished with only 8 points and 3 boards, but could start to see more minutes down the road. Hopefully, Moose can take all of Antic’s minutes at some point and become the primary backup big man for the Hawks.