The Atlanta Hawks hosted the Boston Celtics on Monday, looking to win their fourth straight home game. They fought hard, nearly coming back from a double-digit lead but still lost, 123-115.
Trae Young had it cooking in the first quarter, checking out with 2:00 to play with 17 points, making four from deep. The Hawks rode his 17 points to a 34-28 lead entering the 2nd.
Evan Turner, who’d been a healthy but inactive played his first minutes since December 28th thanks to a laundry list of injuries. Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Bruno Fernando, DeAndre’ Bembry, Alex Len and Jabari Parker all missed the game, leaving the Hawks with just five players off the bench before Turner rejoined.
Although he’d mostly clocked in as the backup point guard before his long term benching, Turner actually played center for a stretch. He is 6’6.
In the 2nd period, It was Kevin Huerter who got hot, making back-to-back threes early on the stretch the lead, which the Celtics erased with their own run. Trae Young cooled down and was held in check for most of the quarter, recording just six points, four of which came from the three point line.
A miraculous, running banked-in three from John Collins at the buzzer gave the Hawks a 62-60 halftime lead.
All of this came with some… let’s say questionable referee work, with Lloyd Pierce having a very active night on the sideline. He picked up a tech for being a little too chatty midway through the 2nd.
The Celtics are the best 2nd half team in the league by net rating, something they showed early on, scoring the first seven points of the 3rd period. They hit on their first five attempts in the half, building a modest sized lead. That small lead turned into a big lead as the quarter went along.
In total the C’s outscored Atlanta 35-22 in the period, which is not as bad as it looked midway through the quarter.
A Trae Young and-one finger roll cut the lead to eight with 9:50 to go, with the game turning ugly for a stretch after that. The two teams traded turnovers and misses, with neither team scoring for almost tow minutes, then both giving up easy dunks. A Brad Stevens timeout was needed by both sides.
The lead then hung around eight for a handful of minutes, before a Jeff Teague steal-to-layup cut the lead to four with just over six to go. Those were points five and six of what became a 8-0 Hawks run.
Aggressive Kevin Huerter showed up after that, draining threes on back-to-back drives, which would have tied the game if not separated by a Jayson Tatum trey.
After some quick Boston points, Atlanta found themselves down by eight with a few minutes to go, and after a wild possession lead by Evan Turner, they cut that to 115-109. Jeff Teague got a steal on the ensuing possession, but threw a wild pass that turned into a jump ball, which the Celtics won.
After a crazy alley-oop attempt turned turnover for the Celtics, John Collins hit an underneath layup to cut the deficit to four. On the next possession, after a C’s miss, Kevin Huerter, Brad Wanamaker and Jaylen Brown fought for the rebound, which rolled out of bounds, originally called as Boston ball. After a lengthy review, it was ruled Atlanta ball.
Trae drove on the next possession, looking to kick but instead having it stolen. Robert WIlliams hit the driving lay up on the other side to grow the lead to six.
Huerter missed a three after that, essentially ending the game.
Box Score Notes:
- Atlanta ran a rotation of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Jeff Teague, Evan Turner and John Collins, which has to be one of the best ball-handling five-man sets to hit an NBA court this season.
- Easily Teague’s best game since being acquired via trade, perhaps his best game throughout the entire season. He finished with 18 points, five assists and four steals.
- Trae Young only doubled his first quarter total in the next three periods, ending the game with 34 points and seven assists. His nine turnovers tied his career-high, and were certainly costly.
- John Collins made 10 of 12 shots for 22 points, adding 11 rebounds and two blocks.
- 16 lead changes and nine ties throughout the 48 minutes.
- Atlanta was out-rebounded 45-32. The lone true center on their team, Damian Jones, grabbed just two in 17 minutes.
It was one of the most entertaining games the Hawks have played this season, and while it would have been nice to get the W, seeing real fight is always nice.
They drop to 13-38, breaking their “streak” of three straight home wins. They head back on the road to play Jeff Teague’s old team, Minnesota, on Wednesday.