After being toasted for most of the season's first two months as the newest inductee into the Eastern Conference elite, the Hawks lost in miserable fashion to a Cleveland team Tuesday that dispatched them in four games in the conference semifinals last spring. Atlanta didn't score for the first 8:48 of the fourth quarter.
Exactly 24 hours later the Hawks had a chance to redeem themselves, albeit in a much more hostile environment on Cleveland's home floor. Coming off the mortifying loss Tuesday night, an Atlanta win was improbable, though not impossible.
The Hawks came to play. They led by 12 at halftime, and answered each Cleveland run. The Cavs clawed back in the fourth quarter, and the final five minutes was a see-saw affair shaping up as a regular season classic with big shots by Joe Johnson, LeBron James and Mo Williams.
With 1:58 remaining in the game and Atlanta leading 99-98, Mo Williams misses an awkward runner that doesn't draw iron. Al Horford comes down with the ball.
Watch the sequence and pay attention to the shot clock.
It doesn't reset as the Hawks bring the ball upcourt for arguably their biggest possession of the season:
Hawks head coach Mike Woodson spends a few minutes lobbying the game officials. With no dead ball between Josh Smith's rushed attempt to drive to the hole against an artificially short clock, and Varejao's putback on the other end that gives Cleveland the lead, there's no reasonable resolution if you're Atlanta other than rewinding the clock to 1:57 and giving the Hawks the ball for a full possession.
Of course, that would mean nullifying Cleveland's ensuing bucket, something I can't imagine would sit too well with the Cavs.