Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks complete comeback to tie series with Philadelphia Sixers

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·5-min read
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Apparently, the heavy wrap on Trae Young's shooting shoulder worked.

Following an 0-for-5 start from the field, the Atlanta Hawks point guard had his right shoulder wrapped by trainers at the end of the first quarter. Backcourt mate Bogdan Bogdanovic limped to the sideline soon after. The Philadelphia 76ers stretched their first-half lead to 18 points, and the Hawks looked cooked — surely bound for a second straight home loss and a 3-1 uphill climb in the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

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But a second-half surge ignited by Hawks forward John Collins and finished by Young's offensive brilliance saved a 103-100 win and their season, tying their second-round series with the East's top seed, 2-2.

Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

Young scored or assisted Atlanta's final 15 points, including four straight free throws to seal the victory. He found his way to 25 points on 8-for-26 shooting and doled out 18 assists against just two turnovers. All five Hawks starters reached double digits. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 22 points, and both Collins (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Clint Capela (12 points, 13 rebounds) recorded double-doubles in the comeback win.

After falling behind 98-94 with 2:44 left, Young drew the Sixers defense and found Collins for a 3-pointer in the corner. Young then scored four straight on back-to-back possessions on either side of the one-minute mark — two on a floater over Philadelphia's interior defense and a pair of free throws on a late whistle against Sixers star Joel Embiid — giving the Hawks a 101-98 advantage with 49.6 seconds on the clock.

Two Embiid free throws made it a one-point game, and an Atlanta 24-second violation gave the Sixers a chance at the win. A rolling Embiid could not get his layup to go, and Ben Simmons failed to secure his chance at the offensive rebound. Young knocked down the free throws to push the lead back to 103-100 with 16.6 seconds to go, and a Seth Curry 3-point attempt at the buzzer only got the back of the rim.

"We stopped passing," 76ers coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the Game 4 loss. "I thought we started the game off that way, and then we got back into ball movement, and then we went back to hero basketball. Basically, everybody wanted to be the hero instead of just trusting the team, trusting each other. When you do that, you usually lose, especially when the other team outworks you the whole f***ing game."

Philadelphia's defense stymied Atlanta early. Only Bogdan Bogdanovic could find the net in the first quarter against a Sixers starting five that was down Danny Green (calf), scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting. The other Hawks combined for 10 points on 3-for-21 shooting in the frame. Philadelphia leveraged stops into easy buckets on the other end, finishing the opening quarter on a 20-8 run over the final seven minutes.

Hawks star Trae Young fights for every inch against the Sixers' defense. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Hawks star Trae Young fights for every inch against the Sixers' defense. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Sixers used another 17-3 run midway through the second quarter, pushing their lead to 55-38. By halftime, Joel Embiid had his double-double, picking apart double teams, Tobias Harris was halfway to 30 points, and Ben Simmons was on triple-double watch. Philadelphia looked in full control of the series.

Then, everything flipped.

Whether it was the partially torn meniscus that cost him a game in the first round or the apparent back issue that left him laying on the sidelines before retreating to the locker room between quarters, Embiid was no longer the dominant force he had been through the first three games of the series. The MVP runner-up finished 0-for-12 from the field in the second half, scoring on just four free throws in the final four minutes.

Harris scored only six of his team-high 20 points after halftime. Simmons finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, almost all of which he collected in the first half. Embiid scored his 17 points on 4-for-20 shooting and added 21 rebounds. Curry also scored 13 of his 17 points in the first two quarters. 

The Hawks got a third-quarter boost from Collins, whose three dunks after halftime willed the Atlanta crowd into the game. His teammates followed suit, cutting a 13-point deficit to two by quarter's end, and Bogdan Bogdanovic's 3-pointer to start the fourth gave the Hawks their first lead since the opening seven minutes.

"We felt the energy tonight," Capela said after the win. "It was contagious."

Sixers reserve Shake Milton provided a jolt, as he did in Game 2, scoring eight straight to take back a 92-88 lead with nine minutes left, but the Hawks never ceased competing. Layups from Young and Bogdanovic kickstarted a 6-0 run that Capela capped with a vicious alley-oop dunk, setting up the season-saving finish.

It didn't take much longer for Young to ice the game and most likely his shoulder afterwards.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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