Game 5: Notes & Quotes
– It came down to the wire but the Hawks pulled out the win over Boston, 87-86, at Philips Arena on Tuesday.
– Atlanta led by 7 with just over four minutes to play, however the Celtics quickly tied things at 83 … The Hawks answered, scoring the next four, but Celtics wouldn’t go away, cutting it to 87-86 on a Paul Pierce three-pointer and then forcing to a turnover with 10 seconds to go … Atlanta wouldn’t them to get a final shot off and came away with the win.
– The Hawks made a change to the starting lineup, sending out Marvin Williams and Al Horford along with Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith … All five starters finished in double-figures with Horford (19 points\11 rebounds) and Smith (13 points\16 boards) posting double-doubles … Teague finished with 16 points while Johnson and Williams added 15 apiece.
– Kevin Garnett’s buzzer-beater gave Boston a 21-15 edge after a tightly played first quarter.
– The Celtics pushed the lead to as many as 10 in the second but a flurry of three-pointers (2 from Marvin Williams, 1 each from Johnson and Teague) by Atlanta in less than two minutes put the home team up 40-37 … Rajon Rondo then beat the halftime horn with a triple of his own to knot things at 40.
– A 10-0 third quarter run put the Hawks up 66-54 but the Celtics answered with a 10-0 burst of their own cutting it to 66-64 heading to the final frame.
– Kevin Garnett and Pierce each had 16 points for Boston, and Rondo had 13 points and 12 assists.
– The teams square off in Game 6 on Thursday in Boston (time TBD) on SportSouth HD, additional network TBD and 98.9 FM.
Hawks head coach Larry Drew: “Al Horford was absolutely huge tonight. His ability to move around at times when we were forced to make switches on defense, and his foot speed enabled him to stay with the ball. Offensively, he gives us a presence down there, and he made some big shots for us tonight. I didn’t want to bring him back that early in the fourth, but it was a close game and you could feel the momentum shifting. He was a superman for us down the stretch.”
“My heart was racing a hundred miles an hour on the last sequence. We put our best free throw shooters in the game. We didn’t make a smart play inbounding the ball, but I’m glad (Josh Smith) had the presence of mind on the last play to step up on (Rajon) Rondo when he came flying up the court. We were forced into a switch, and Al stepped up and took the ball. Rondo tried to turn the corner, but Al forced him back and then Josh deflected the ball. You’re forced to make switches in those types of last second situations. Other than Zaza (Pachulia) I think everybody else will be fine for game six. I’ll have to talk to Al to see how he’s feeling, but everybody should be ready to go.”
Al Horford: “I was tired a little bit, but right now I feel fine. Maybe it’s the adrenaline from the game and tomorrow it will be a different story, but right now I’m fine. At the end of the third quarter I asked coach if he could sit me down for four or five minutes so I can come back and leave it all out there. But I had to go back in earlier than that. I was picking my spots on when to be aggressive out there. I didn’t want to lose the series that way, so I didn’t want to let (Rajon) Rondo shoot a jumper over me. You’re fighting for your life out there. I wanted to bring energy to the team tonight. We needed to win this game. We had a lot of guys step up tonight. Marvin and Joe stepped up to hit some big shots in key moments for us.”
Joe Johnson: “The court wasn’t necessarily more open with Al out there tonight. I was just trying to make the right play out there. It feels great to have him back on the floor. It’s a blessing to have everybody back out there. I thought Jeff (Teague) made a lot of great penetration tonight and it led to some easy baskets for us, with some dunks for Al and Marvin. When he’s doing that it makes us a hard team to beat. Our defense was a constant. We’ve played good defense throughout the series minus one game. If we keep that up, we have a chance. We want to take things one quarter at a time. We’re concerned with game six, the first quarter, and not letting them get out to a quick start.”
“Coach (Larry Drew) set up a play for me to get the ball, but it didn’t happen. Once the steal happened, I was just concerned with finding my man. But then Josh made a great defensive play at the end to seal it.”
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers: “Al Horford was terrific tonight. Both he and (Marvin) Williams made a big difference tonight. We anticipated (the Hawks) playing hard tonight, since this was an elimination game. I didn’t like our execution tonight on offense down the stretch. Overall, I thought they played harder and better than us. When you look at the last couple of games, we had great motion and movement, but tonight I thought we were stagnant. It was good in the first quarter, but then things changed. Both teams missed a lot of opens shots tonight. Once they started to hit a few, they got their confidence up. This was the team they started the season with. They now have it, so now we have to deal with it.”
“We were going to foul them at the end, but our guys decided to try and get the steal first. We talk about end of the game situations every day at practice, especially for playoff games. I wish we had gone down the middle of the floor instead of the sideline, especially with a big (man) on you, unless it’s a fast break situation. I thought Kevin (Garnett) set a nice step up great pick, and I was hoping (Rajon Rondo) would attack the basket, but the lost control of the ball and that blew up any chance that we had. We didn’t capitalize on the situation. When you put yourself in a hole, you have to make a run, and we did, but then they made one back at us. Give them credit.
Rajon Rondo: “I tried to make a play but got caught on the baseline. Give Al (Horford) credit. I just didn’t come up with the shot. The guys on the bench kept saying ‘energy, energy’, so I wanted to bring energy on defense first. The way my shot was falling, I thought I could make shots all night. In the last 1:30 of the third quarter, I got some steals and we made some baskets off them. That got us closer heading into the fourth. There’s nights like Sunday when Paul (Pierce) makes all of his shots, and then there’s nights like tonight when he and I had low field goal percentages. We knew this morning in shootaround they would have their entire starting unit. Al makes a big difference. He can guard anybody on the court. Other than that, it’s the same Hawks we’ve been playing the last four or five years. We started out with great intensity, but then they made good runs on us the first half, and that got the crowd back into it. They jumped on us pretty good again at the start of the third quarter too.”