There have been a number of thrilling finishes in the NBA this season, but none of them have matched the sheer absurdity of the ending to the Atlanta Hawks‘ 123-122 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday evening. And over the final four months of the regular season it’s hard to imagine any remaining game will either.
First, with the Bulls down by one and 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Derrick Jones Jr. was fouled but only made one of his two free throws. Then, in the extra frame, there were three lead changes in the final second before AJ Griffin tossed in a twisting shot at the buzzer to give the Hawks an improbable win.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the three key moments:
Hawks 121, Bulls 119, 1.0 second remaining: Young hits clutch jumper
As time ran down in overtime, the Hawks trailed by one and put the ball in the hands of their star man, Trae Young, and let him go to work. Isolated up top against Coby White, he sent the screen away and drained a step-back jumper that seemed like it would be the game-winner.
Bulls 122, Hawks 121, 0.5 seconds remaining: DeRozan steps calmly to the line
Down on the other end, the Bulls still had just enough time to attempt a catch-and-shoot. To no surprise, they ran a play to free up their lead scorer, DeMar DeRozan. His attempt never came close, but only because he was fouled by Bogdan Bogdanovic. Needing to make at least two to tie the game, DeRozan stepped calmly to the line and hit all three free throws to put the Bulls back in front.
Hawks 123, Bulls 122, 0.00 seconds remaining: Griffin wins it
The only silver lining for the Hawks after Bogdanovic’s foul is that when the refs reviewed the play they determined there was still 0.5 seconds left on the clock. Had it been later, they would have needed a tip-in. As it was, they also had just enough time left for a catch-and-shoot opportunity.
While everyone may have expected them to get the ball to Young, they instead used him as a decoy, running him off a staggered screen at the top of the key. With all the attention focused on Young, the Bulls had no one back protecting the rim. Griffin was able to get basket-side of Jones and somehow contorted his body in mid-air to catch the lob from Jalen Johnson and flip it in at the buzzer.
This was actually the second buzzer beater of the season for Griffin, Toronto Raptors on Nov. 19. The rookie is now the first player in Hawks franchise history to have multiple game-winning buzzer beaters in the same season.over the