Hawks Come Back In Fourth To Beat Celtics

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks (35-43) started out on fire, shooting 77.8% (14-of-18) from the field in the first quarter, but went cold on offense for the next two and a half quarters. Down nine in the fourth quarter, the Hawks went on a furious 19-3 run to take the lead for good on their way to a 105-97 victory over the Celtics (23-55). Kyle Korver got hot in the fourth quarter, burying three huge threes on his way to 17 points (4-of-6 from three).

Hawks vs. Celtics
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The Celtics, down five at the half, dominated the third quarter to take a seven-point lead into the fourth. Rajon Rondo sparked their run and finished with 19 points and 12 assists. Avery Bradley had a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, and made all four of his three-pointers and Jared Sullinger had a double-double of his own with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Jeff Teague came alive in the fourth quarter with nine points, three assists, and two steals in the final quarter. Teague was quiet in the second and third quarters, but gave the Hawks offense a jolt down the stretch in the fourth with his aggressive play. Teague finished the game with a team-high 19 and eight assists.

“I think the ball movement and the pace [was the difference],” said Coach Bud. “We got Kyle free on a corner three and we got a transition three, and I think our defensive effort was what fueled us. We picked up our defensive effort and pressure and got some turnovers and some steals that led to transition baskets — especially a couple of those transition threes from Kyle — that fuels us. I think when we were in the halfcourt I think the ball moved and our spacing was good. We found the right guy at the right time, and we were able to execute.”

With Pero Antic out with a sore right ankle, Elton Brand took his place in the starting lineup and responded with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and was his normal strong presence in the paint on defense. DeMarre Carroll also had a strong night with 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Paul Millsap was clearly bothered at times by his nagging right thumb injury, but fought through it for a big 14 points and 14 rebounds. Millsap was able to find ways to be effective using his left hand on both ends, and — after sitting for a brief period in the second half after aggravating it — Millsap came back to grab some big rebounds and get some key buckets.

“Yeah, [Paul]’s such a versatile player,” said Bud. ” Even when he’s not 100% –which a lot of guys at this time of year aren’t — it’s amazing how he’s able to find a way to still be effective. He can pass with either hand. He finishes a lot with his left hand. He’s such a threat, and if you get the ball in his hands he’s such a great decision maker and he can distribute and he can score. Then, defensively, I think he rebounded well. He went up and got some really big ones, and he’s just, when we talk about the resiliency of our group, he’s a big part of that.”

The bench was good for the Hawks tonight despite having a short rotation with Pero out, and Mike Scott led the way with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 20 minutes of play. Lou Williams added nine points and two assists in 17 minutes, and Shelvin Mack had five points and five assists in 20 minutes.

The Hawks, after a disappointing performance against the Pistons, were in need of a bounce back win to stay two games clear of the Knicks for the eighth seed. Coming back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit showed the team’s resiliency in an important game. Not only do the Hawks want wins to get in the playoffs — magic number down to 2 — but they want to be playing well when they get there so they can make some noise.

“We need to get wins, for sure, but we need to focus on playing good basketball,” said Korver. “Like, let’s go make the playoffs, right. We’re gonna do this, but let’s go into the playoffs playing good basketball and playing confident basketball. Closing out a game like that, hopefully, will help to build that confidence.”

The next test for the Hawks will be on Friday, when the Hawks head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets before returning home for a match-up with the Heat on Saturday, a potential first-round opponent.

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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