It was deja vu all over again. The Celtics once again built a big lead at home (this one was 18 points), only to watch the opposing team storm back. The Hawks beat the Celtics 92-91, behind Paul Millsap's monster night (34 points, 15 boards). Boston was led by their bench, especially Kelly Olynyk (21 points, 5 assists) and Kris Humphries (18 points, 10 boards).
Both teams started slow in this one, with Atlanta missing eight of their first nine shots, and the Celtics starting the game 1-6. Boston built a very early 8-2 lead, but the Hawks answered with a 10-2 run of the own against the Cs starters, taking a 12-10 lead. That's when Brad Stevens began turning to his bench, who energized the Celtics, and the TD Garden crowd through the mid-way point of the 2nd quarter. Courtney Lee had 9 first half points and Phil Pressey dished out 3 assists for the second unit. This helped the Celtics go on a 32-12 run, turing a two point deficit into an 18 point cushion.
Unfortunately, the starters had to come back in at some point, and when they did, the momentum once again turned in Atlanta's favor. The Hawks cut the gap to five by the halftime break, thanks in part to Millsap, who had 19 points and 9 boards at the half.
The starters again laid an egg to start the second half, allowing Atlanta to start the 3rd quarter on a 15-4 run that gave the Hawks a six point advantage. Brad Stevens called timeout and according to Abby Chin of CSNNE, ripped into his starting unit pretty good, saying "This unit is getting outplayed. This is your last chance to prove why you deserve to be playing in this game." Finally, the starters responded. They came out of the timeout playing hard, and gave the Celtics the lead back before the second unit once again came in strong.
Olynyk was masterful in the 4th quarter, scoring 10 points and dishing out two assists in the final session. KO finished with career highs in both points (21) and assists (5), and was the best player on the floor tonight for the Celtics. And just behind him was Humphries, who was fantastic in a reserve role once again. However, the Celtics just did not have enough gas in the tank down the stretch, allowing Millsap to push them around in the middle on his way to a career afternoon. Boston had a chance to win it on their last possession, trailing by one with four seconds left, but Jordan Crawford (who was awful today) missed a 14 footer that would have given Boston the win. Also worth noting, that none of Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger or Brandon Bass played in the 4th quarter.
The Celtics are now 13-18 this season, their next game is Thursday in Chicago.
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