The Miami Heat battled back from a double-digit deficit with a dominant third quarter, only to let it slip away in the closing moments of Game 3 in a frustrating 110-110 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
Trae Young’s floater with 4.4 seconds left in the game ended up winning the game by the slimmest of margins after a corner 3-pointer by PJ Tucker gave the Heat the lead.
Miami was down by 11 points late in the second quarter but turned it around in dramatic fashion with 21 straight points in the third quarter, their longest such playoff streak in at least 25 years, to give them an 84-68 lead. They had a 16-point lead in the second half but Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic would help the home team mount their comeback in the fourth quarter with a game-changing 15-2 run to cut the deficit to three points to set up the final pivotal moments.
Young had struggled through the first two games and from the field tonight, going 3-9 overall and 1-4 from deep through the first three quarters, but turned it around with 10 points and 3-5 shooting in the fourth. Bogdanovic finished with 18 points and De’Andre Hunter adding 17.
To make matters worse for the Heat, point guard Kyle Lowry left the game in the third and did not return to the game due to a hamstring injury. The severity of the injury is not known at the time, but the impact of his absence was immediate with spotty playmaking and Jimmy Butler, who had 11 points in the first quarter, and Tyler Herro, with 12 in the second quarter, failing to make an impact in crunch time after attempting difficult shots on isolated plays. Gabe Vincent played well in Lowry’s absence and did his best to contain Young, but the Heat will be hoping that Lowry’s injury is not severe.
Bam Adebayo made an impact during the huge third quarter run primarily with his defense, but he disappeared through long stretches of the game once again as he has been prone to do in this series, and was a non-factor late in the game.
Such was the dominance of the Heat in this series that Atlanta’s largest lead of the series came at 37-31 four minutes into the second quarter. Now, the Heat, who were so close to securing a dominant 3-0 series lead, now face another road game on Sunday against a confident Hawks team to avoid a 2-2 tie and instead with a win they can head back home to try to close out the series.