After getting off to a slow start, the Boston Celtics were not able to come back against the hot-shooting Atlanta Hawks, falling 121-97 on Tuesday night. The Hawks shot 56.3 percent for the game and had an answer for every comeback attempt from the C's. They used a 20-6 run to start the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
After closing the gap with a few times due to increased defensive intensity, Boston could not lock down long enough on that end of the floor in order to get back into the game.
Paul Millsap lead the Hawks with 25 points and nine boards while Thabo Sefolosha added 15 points, three steals and three blocks. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 25 points of his own and R.J. Hunter added 13 points off the bench. Isaiah Thomas chipped in 14 points, but shot just 3-11 from the field and had a team-high five turnovers.
The Hawks got out to an early 14-6 lead in the first quarter with help from three or four poor defensive possessions from Jae Crowder. Sefolosha beat him to the basket for an easy layup off of an inbounds pass and Al Hordford got him down in the post and scored on an easy spin move when Crowder gambled on a steal.
While Atlanta got off to the hot, Bradley continued his hot shooting to keep the Celtics within striking distance. He hit four of his first five shots and scored nine of the team's first 11 points. Bradley finished the first quarter with 14 points.
To go along with some sloppy defense early on, the Celtics committed six turnovers in the first quarter, which led to 10 fast break points for the Hawks. Thomas, who had a horrible start to the game, contributed four of those turnovers. The C's were able to step up their team defense down the stretch in the first half, though, and cut the lead to five (33-28).
Hunter got some early action due to Marcus Smart missing his second straight game with a knee injury. He registered eight points in eight minutes and also played some good, fundamental defense.
The Celtics played inconsistent defense for the entirety of the first half. They would force a few turnovers in a row and then allow Atlanta two or three wide open shots to extend the lead. After closing the gap to two late in the second, Atlanta went on a run 7-0 run and took a 57-48 lead into halftime.
The Celtics continued to play lackluster defense to start the second half. The Hawks kept getting open looks and were knocking them down when the C's were out of position. Atlanta got out to a 72-58 lead with just over six minutes left to play in the third quarter. Boston eventually locked down on the defensive end, forcing three straight turnovers to cut the lead to 75-69 in just three minutes.
Photo Credit: David Goldman/AP Photo
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