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Bobcats Vs. Hawks: Atlanta Blows 22-Point Lead, Falls 88-86 On Stephen Jackson's Buzzer-Beater

A former Hawk helped claw the Charlotte Bobcats to victory.

Stephen Jackson's beat the buzzer with a fadeaway jumper, which sailed through the net as the clock struck zero as the Bobcats erased a 22-point deficit to beat the struggling Atlanta Hawks 88-86 on Saturday night at Philips Arena.

Josh Smith had 28 points for Atlanta, which begins a seven-game road trip with a two game losing streak.

"We settled," Hawks coach Larry Drew told the media during his post-game press conference. "The one thing I tried to talk to the team about is that killer instinct. When you are up by 20, it's not time to go for home runs. You keep in hitting singles, hitting singles, hitting singles.

"We fell in love with the 3-pointer. We had more 3-point tries than we had shots from the free throw line. You can't do that."

It gets tedious writing about what went wrong with this Hawks team. You could basically just cut and paste the text from just about any losing game story. The Hawks dominated the first half, by crashing the paint and establishing an inside-out game.

But Atlanta left what helped the team build a 51-29 lead on Al Horford's layup with 2:51 left in the second quarter somewhere around the closed-off 400 section of Philips Arena. Charlotte finished the half with an 8-1 run to cut the lead to 13 before coming out with a vengeance in the second half.

The Hawks -- perhaps thinking they put enough work in for the night to assure themselves of a win -- turned back into that chuck up a bad jump shot team. The Bobcats ratcheted up the defense, closed the paint, baited Atlanta into launching ill advised jumpers and clawed back into the game.

"Words can’t describe it," Smith told the team's TV broadcast about the Charlotte comeback. "We played so well in that first half. The lead kind of dwindled later on in the second quarter. They came out with a lot of energy in the third."

Nevertheless, Atlanta had a chance to post the go-ahead bucket with 8.9 ticks left, but Joe Johnson was pestered by another former Hawk -- Nazr Mohammed -- as he chucked up yet another jumper. The shot predictably missed its target as the Bobcats grabbed the rebound and called time out.

The inbound pass headed toward Jackson, who launched a long jumper from near the Hawks bench as Maurice Evans closed in. Evans made a great defensive play, but Jackson wasn't distracted. The ball found nothing but net as Jackson channeled his inner-Aaron Rodgers by putting on the imaginary championship belt.

The Hawks collapse was complete.

"It was a good defensive play, but it was a better offensive shot," Drew said. "It should have never come down to that."

But it did. Again.

You have to shake your head and wonder when this team is going to learn.  Drew surely knows what ails his basketball team, but the message seems to be lost in translation.

The message seems simple enough.

"When we don't get what we want a few trips down the floor we need to slow it down and get the shot that we want," he said. "It's certainly not shoot the three. Our guys haven't grasped the concept.

"They play fast and take the shot that is given to them. We should see now that when you do play and you do have a team down, there's a way to play."

Let's hope the Hawks learn this lesson the hard way.

Jamal Crawford  had just two points on 1-for-9 shooting on a night when Atlanta's bench was non-existent. Atlanta's reserves scored just 16 points on 5-for-25 shooting from the field. They were outscored by Charlotte backup Shaun Livingston, who posted 22 points.

Horford had 16 points and 10 boards in 41-plus minutes in his return to action for the Hawks, who head to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.