After the Hawks Plugged Holes, Korver & Schroder Fueled Comeback vs. Celtics


The Atlanta Hawks gave up 66 points to the Boston Celtics in the first half and won anyway. Evan Turner took a few verbal stabs at Kyle Korver after the game.

Before the game, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Kyle Korver is only averaging 13 points per game, but he’s the kind of guy you have to game plan for, otherwise, he’ll score 30.

Korver came close. He got to 24, but he only needed 9 shots to do it, and his efficiency was a key factor in the Hawks being able to come back from a 23-point deficit.

Korver made 8-of-9 shot attempts, including 6-of-7 three-pointers, and he also added 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

For the season, by the way, Korver now sports garish shooting splits of 53.6% FG/57.8% 3-pt. FG/94.6 FT%, and he has made 14-of-21 (66.7%) of his corner three-point attempts.

“We played terribly in the first half,”” Korver noted after the game. “We made a couple of adjustments and came out and played with energy and purpose, and we started making a couple of shots and guys made some plays. I don’t know what happened in that last 30 seconds, but we’ll take it.”

What happened in the final thirty seconds: With the Hawks nursing a two-point lead, they chased Jeff Green off the three-point line. Green opted instead for a fairly open 15-foot shot that barely rattled out.

Dennis Schröder, who scored a career-high 15 points, popped up among the bigs in the paint to grab a huge rebound. The Hawks nearly lost the ball, but Al Horford corralled it and fed an outlet pass to Kent Bazemore for the clincher.

As Korver noted, the first half really could not have gone any worse for the Atlanta Hawks. In the final moments of the half, trailing by a 63-50 margin, Jared Sullinger pump faked, to a step to open space and sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

After yielding just 26 first-half points in each of a pair of wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and Charlotte Bobcats, the Hawks had given up 66 to the Celtics.

One of the halftime adjustments was Coach Mike Budenholzer switching how he guarded the Celtics’ guards. After Rajon Rondo had 14 first-half assists and Avery Bradley racked up 14 first-half points, Budenholzer opted to put Jeff Teague on Bradley and Korver on Rondo. In other words, speed on the shooter and size on the passer.

“(Rondo) was kind of picking us apart almost like a quarterback with 14 assists at halftime, so we just wanted to try a different look. Bradley was going really well, so maybe put someone a little quicker to chase him. They run a lot of screens, a lot of actions for Bradley.”

The tactic worked well for the Hawks, even if Boston’s Evan Turner wasn’t exactly complimentary of Korver’s defense after the game.

Another decision by Budenholzer was the choice to ride with Schröder for the entirety of the fourth quarter. Schröder’s defense and ability to probe the Celtics’ defense helped the Hawks outscore the Celtics, 29-20, in the final quarter.

“It was just a little bit of a feel,” Budenholzer said after the game. “Dennis was playing well. I  just stuck with him. We’ve done it with different guys at different times this year. Jeff (Teague) has been unbelievable and he’ll continue to be unbelievable.”

Budenholzer also used Bazemore more than he usually does. Bazemore played more minutes than either Thabo Sefolosha or Shelvin Mack, and Kent rewarded his coach by making all three of his shots and playing frenetic defense.

Bazemore got the smallish crowd on its collective feet with a soaring dunk.

Lost in the comeback madness and quirky rotations was another boxscore stuffing performance from Paul Millsap, who had 19 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals, to boost his league-leading average to 2.4 steals per game.

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